After launching in 2020, this is the third time Amazon Australia has offered Australian businesses the opportunity to apply for and win an Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grants package.
Amazon Australia received hundreds of applications for this year’s Launchpad Innovation Grants initiative, from which ten finalists were chosen. Following a competitive pitch process, each of this year’s four winners received a prize package worth more than $90,000. A package that includes a $20,000 cash injection, out-of-home support thanks to JCDecaux, marketing support, mentorship from Amazon Australia experts, and a ‘Selling on Amazon’ bootcamp experience, and more.
Read on to find out more about these pioneering homegrown startups.
When Perth-based longtime beauty industry worker, Benjamyn Gardner, noticed the raft of filtered, flawless and homogenous versions of beauty dominating his social media feeds and advertising billboards, he made it their mission to challenge our unhealthy fixation with ‘perfection’. Rather than focusing on the outside, he decided to create a product to remind its users that everyone is special, and that beauty is much more than skin deep.
“I founded AntiBeauty as a response to the lack of genuine inclusivity in the beauty industry,” he says. “I noticed that existing products did not cater to all skin types or concerns, leaving many individuals feeling excluded.”
Founded in 2019, AntiBeauty celebrates a world that challenges the ideals of ‘traditional’ beauty standards through its quality skincare products — products that are Australian made and vegan.
It’s this commitment to inclusivity that saw the business take out a coveted Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant. And the accolade has extra meaning for Benjamyn given the dramatic changes in his life over the last few years.
“I am truly over the moon to have won,” he says. “Especially considering that, just six years ago, I was homeless and struggling to get by.
“As a "solo-preneur’’ with no external support, this grant will be a game changer for my future growth plans. The cash prize and access to expert support and resources will allow me to invest in my business, scale my operations, and find more clients to help.”
More than just support, Benjamyn believes that initiatives like Amazon Australia’s Launchpad Innovation Grants are vital in helping to cultivate an inclusive and diverse business landscape.
“When a company like Amazon invests in the development of local businesses, it not only helps individual entrepreneurs like myself but also fosters innovation and increased diversity in the industry,” he says.
“By championing local startups and small businesses, Amazon Launchpad also showcases the unique talents, products, and services that Australia has to offer, inspiring other entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams.”
A casual coffee catchup with a friend was the genesis for a new business for Melbourne-based entrepreneur, Donna Johnson.
“The idea for Zena Sport came to me while having coffee with a girlfriend,” she recalls. “Her daughters had just started playing football and we were discussing the injuries that had occurred over the weekend. It concerned me that adolescent girls were playing contact sport without any form of chest protection at such a crucial stage of their development. I went home, did some research about breast injuries in female sport, and discovered that there were no suitable products available for girls to wear.”
Fast-forward more than two years of research and development, and Zena Sport was born. Backed by sports science and using patented technology, Zena Sport aims to empower a new generation of women’s participation in sport through pioneering protection garments, specifically the Zena Impact Vest — a vest designed to reduce risk to the breast area from impact sports.
“The product includes breast and rib protection suitable for all sports,” continues Donna. “We use a technology which allows the garment to be lightweight, while being able to absorb high impact. It’s also non-restrictive, so the athlete can perform at their best while reducing the risk of injury.”
Now worn by thousands of women participating in sport across the country, Donna’s bold innovation was exactly what the judges were looking for when they selected the winners of this year’s Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grant. And the prize — specifically the support that comes with it — has been greatly received.
“Starting a business is extremely difficult, “ she says. “So, receiving this recognition from Amazon really bolsters your belief that your product has purpose, and that this journey you are on is actually worth all the blood, sweat and tears.
“Also, it will allows us to grow as a business and expand our product development. It gives us the opportunity to introduce our product to a whole new audience and reach more Amazon.com.au customers.”
“Hopefully we can build our brand awareness and work towards developing more products specifically for women,” she enthuses.
The challenge of how to allow the average consumer to support charitable organisations and to give back through an affordable product saw three philanthropic-minded entrepreneurs scratch their collective heads. But after some brainstorming they devised a solution: Givewrap.
A range of recyclable and locally made and designed gift wrap, Givewrap is both a high quality product, but also a way to pay it forward, thanks a donation to charity with every purchase.
“We initially presented the Givewrap concept to the Children's Cancer Institute as a new and innovative way for them to fundraise,” explains Givewrap co-Founder, Michelle Tirtabudi. “The team at the Institute loved the idea and selflessly told us that it was too good not to share with other charitable organisations!
“It allows people to give back, without having to give a lot,” says Michelle. “Givewrap has the power to turn an inexpensive gift into something a little more special.”
Already donating healthy proceeds to its four charity partners, the Children's Cancer Institute, Starlight Children's Foundation, RSPCA NSW and Gotcha4Life, Givewrap’s goals of sustainability and philanthropy helped the business win one of this year’s Amazon Launchpad Innovation Grants.
“We’ve always believed in the idea but to have someone with the capability of Amazon believe in it too still has us pinching ourselves,” says Michelle.
“Being a startup in the e-commerce space comes with many challenges. So having the expertise of Amazon Australia behind us will be priceless in helping scale the business to the heights we believe it can reach. We’re so excited at the chance to build the business and grow our customer base.
Because the more we grow, the more we give to our charities.”
Despite being just shy of six months old, Michelle says that the Amazon Launchpad win has fuelled both her and her teams’ ambitions to take the brand global.
“Givewrap has big plans!” she says. “And thanks to Amazon Launchpad, some of those plans may be happening sooner than expected.”
The use of native Australian ingredients has been gaining momentum over the last few years. And one of the businesses that is helping spearhead this foodie revolution is BSKT Wholefoods.
Founded by former Gold Coast Titans player and proud First Nations man, Ryan James, with his former teammates Greg Bird and Selasi Berdie, the business was launched last year during NAIDOC week and has since gone on to celebrate and showcase Australia’s diverse native, Indigenous ingredients.
“Our primary goal is to encourage us to look to our own backyards for sustenance and to rediscover Australia’s rich 60,000-year-old heritage of native plants, nuts, seeds and proteins,” says CEO, Ryan. “And to celebrate the wealth of diverse native indigenous ingredients can be and to showcase these ingredients on the national and international stage.”
Not only committed to helping create more meaningful products that are local and seasonal, as well as fostering a strong connection to country in the process, Ryan and his team are also focused on creating a business model that supports the indigenous community via a new social impact division of the business, BSKT Native — a division he hopes to expand with the help of Amazon Australia.
“As a small business, being able to receive guidance and mentorship from Amazon Australia is invaluable,” said Ryan. “This support is worth more than money, because it gives us access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise. We are excited to work with Amazon Australia and help take our business to the next level with their help.
“Winning this grant is not just an honour, but also a responsibility to deliver on our promises and make a positive impact on the community and the environment — and it’s a promise we intend to keep.”