Bars, business and Blockchain – these 40 Under 40 winners are making big moves

This collection of imaginative entrepreneurs are forging new paths in sustainable homecare, superb hospitality and cyber security.

Sep 15, 2023, updated Sep 15, 2023

Ami Bateman
Pleasant State: CEO and Co-Founder

As we become more attune to the perils of climate change and our role in damaging the planet, organisations like Pleasant State become increasingly more important. Co-founded in 2019 by Ami Bateman, who has been driving sustainability action for the past 16 years in various corporate roles, Pleasant State has devised an ingenious way to ensure our houses can be spotless without the use of toxic chemicals and single-use plastics. The homecare brand’s sustainable cleaning bars, which dissolve in water and make a great multi-purpose cleaner for glass, bathrooms, floors and dishes, is a revolutionary product found in more than 20,000 Australian and New Zealand homes. Since going public, Pleasure State has stopped over 150,000 plastic bottles from reaching landfills and prevented 75,000 litres of toxic chemicals from entering waterways. Accumulating an impressive track record in a short period of time bodes for Pleasure State’s future, as it endeavours to become the leading ethical homecare product on the Australian market.

One rule you live your life by?
Do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing.

Bonnie Shearston
Happy Fat Group: Operations Manager

In an industry where risk taking is part of the game, Bonnie Shearston has been particularly fearless. Happy Fat Group, the hospitality crew co-founded by Bonnie and Tom Sanceau in 2010, has been pivotal in shaping Brisbane’s drinking and dining scene, sparking new trends and movements, and helping to put Brisbane on the foodie map. Happy Fat Group has been responsible for opening a number of landmark venues, including iconic Woolloongabba cocktail bar Canvas, innovative small plates restaurant Public, inner-city haunts Coppa Spuntino and Red Hook, and the team’s most-recent opening, izakaya-inspired listening bar Ruby, My Dear. Overcoming the hardships of the global pandemic to return to the forefront of Brisbane dining, Bonnie and the Happy Fat team will continue to think of innovative and fun new concepts for the city to enjoy into the future.

Favourite pastime/activity that isn’t related to your work?
Sport and music. If I’m not running around a restaurant, it’s around a netball court or a touch field. Music is an incredibly important aspect of my life and most of my days are filled with music in some form or another.

Anuj Gupta
KnG group/ KnG Healthcare: Director and Co-Founder

Dr. Anuj Gupta has always had a visionary and entrepreneurial spirit. KnG Group, which Dr. Gupta co-founded with Mannu Kala has risen from humble beginnings into a vast conglomerate with a diverse portfolio of interests. KnG Group’s various subsidiaries offer a spectrum of services, including safeguarding businesses and individuals from cyber threats, offering high-quality care for senior citizens and providing access to quality medical services. By embracing innovation and driving positive change, Dr. Gupta looks to make a meaningful impact on as many lives as possible.

Emmagness Ruzvidzo
VAKA Consulting: Co-Founder and CEO

One day Emmagness Ruzvidzo was leading a team of nine at a global FinTech company, the next she was made redundant. Knowing her worth and the value she could bring to organisations, she founded VAKA Consulting, a marketing business that has helped a number of businesses of all sizes build their brands, connect with customers, and achieve their goals in a short amount of time. Offering services tailored to her client’s business objectives based on a data-driven and research-based approach, Emmagness is proving to be an asset to her clientele, be they start-ups and small businesses, or large-scale companies. No stranger to setbacks and challenges, Emmagness is also helping women rediscover their passions, rediscover their voices and learn how powerful they are through her own coaching service.

What Queensland restaurant do you know you’re guaranteed a good time in?
Ohhh, there’s so many! My favourite pick would be Happy Boy – the food never disappoints!

Michael Cotton
Optio Capital: Chief Product Officer

For many of us, the terms Web3 and Blockchain often go way over our heads. Thankfully, Michael Cotton of Australian venture capital firm Optio Capital has a firm grasp on the importance of these sectors, to the point where he is tasked with identifying and investing in the most promising early-stage businesses working in this bleeding-edge space. Drawing upon a deep understanding of technology, markets and products, as well as leveraging a vast network of entrepreneurs, advisors, and investors, Michael and Optio Capital has helped build numerous viable, self-sustaining businesses and products, with a portfolio boasting a total market cap exceeding $100-million AUD.

One rule you live your life by?
There is always someone out there working harder.
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