Entrepreneur Stories

Along the way we have heard the inspiring stories of migrant and refugee entrepreneurs from different backgrounds and countries, all with one thing in common – they have all realised their dream in Australia. Hear from them, their stories of success and the obstacles they have faced during their journey to success in Australia.

If you are an entrepreneur and would like to share your story, please do!

The more we share about our experiences the more we can help other international entrepreneurs and the stronger our community will be.

Pheobe Yu

Founder of Ettitude

“Back in 2006 when I just moved to Australia from China, I wasn't aware of the world's climate problems because it was not being discussed much in China at that time.

Although there was not too much of a culture shock for me as a new immigrant, there was, instead, an "awareness shock" on the environmental issues our planet is facing. I just couldn't see myself remaining in my old job anymore. I was helping international giant retail chains to source price competitive giftware and homewares in Asia, even though I knew these products were often of poor quality, which encouraged an unsustainable lifestyle of overconsumption. Most of those products will be used once or twice during the holiday season and end up in the landfill as they were not designed to last but to make the chain stores the highest profit margin. 

Hence, I started to research and develop my own product line, with the idea of well-designed, well made and sustainable products in mind. The idea for Ettitude hit me when I was shopping for bedding for my first home in Melbourne. I was in shopping centres for hours hunting for the perfect sheets and was very frustrated by the fact that affordable bedding was of very low quality, while the more comfortable options were outrageously overpriced—not to mention the lack of any eco-friendly choices.

I came up with the solution for my frustration—to build a business from scratch offering premium quality, sustainably made, healthy bedding essentials at an accessible price, and sell online directly to consumers bypass the bloated supply chain, expensive designer licensing fees that are often passed onto them by traditional retailers—and I never looked back!"

David Chung

Founder of Limbr

“{Starting my own business} was scary, risky, and really difficult to communicate my decision particularly to my family who had very strict and demanding expectations of my education and my career - something that I think is common for a lot of 2nd generation immigrants. My parents found it very difficult to understand or accept my decision.

They had a vision for me to work in 1 of 3 areas: law, medicine or business, but they didn't see entrepreneurship as business—they meant working at a top tier consulting or finance firm. The thing that changed their mind was watching me in a pitch competition that led to a $1.5 million investment into our company. After that, it was like they understood for the first time that I was doing something successful in their eyes. They were just worried though, but the toll of that was daunting."

Thuy Pham

Founder of Spectrum Tuition

“The most unique thing about being a migrant entrepreneur is the fact that I have a different perspective than most. As the daughter of Vietnamese refugees, I watched as my parents gritted through settling in a new country where they did not speak the language or have any skills to pave a new life for themselves, and my three other brothers. My oldest brother was only four at the time.

This gave me a unique perspective that would ultimately shape how I approached my life and work in the future. Throughout my time building my business while also studying full time, while difficult, nothing compared to how difficult life would have been for my parents - and despite the odds, they somehow did it and built a life that provided me and my brothers with the opportunity to achieve any goal we set for ourselves in life.

This perspective gave me the drive to build the highest quality tutoring school I possibly could to give any student the opportunity to obtain a high quality education, irrespective of their background, gender or socioeconomic status. Over the years, we have helped countless students earn scholarships or places at select entry schools when a place would have previously been out of reach, with some students travelling across town including students from Mildura, Warrnambool and across town to attend classes in Footscray each week!”

Aiman Hamdouna

Founder of Hatch Quarter

"Networking is the key to building a valuable and supportive community. I attended countless meetup events and visited most coworking spaces available at that time. I then identified the type of events and Meetups that are most relevant to me and had started attending targeted events. It is through understanding and attending these events that I then had the courage to create my own. I started the International Entrepreneurs in Australia (IEA) meetup in February 2016 in Hatch Quarter. The idea was to gather first generation Australians, travelers and students in Australia from different backgrounds to share knowledge and expertise in a comfortable and creative environment. Today we are over 2,900 members and growing."

Shaun Sumaru

Founder of CarDeals2Me

"The most important aspect of being the industry expert but “non-technical” founder is finding your tribe and building your network. For me, it was finding the technical cast of experts that I could rely on to get me through situations.

From day one I knew I needed help, so I was able to wrangle a previous connection to help with our original on-boarding, though seven months in he and I ended up parting ways, it was amicable and I now consider him a friend and am thankful he was there to grow with early on."

Surjeet Taank

Founder of Kargologic

“There is no magic bullet. We all must put the hard work into achieving our vision and most importantly believe in it wholeheartedly. Don't underestimate the power of networking and be humble always.”

David Truong

Founder of Redu

“Initially {my startup} was an experiment, motivated by not wanting to and not believing I would fit into a 'normal' career. Once I found that I was passionate about solving the problem and helping customers, then making and having a positive impact on their lives became the motivation. Being motivated by money is OK, but it will be difficult to survive the hardships of startup life if your only goal is money, as there are easier ways to make money than entrepreneurship!”

Katrina Too

Co-founder of Ediply

“There is nothing without a team: people come first. It doesn’t matter how lucrative the business is if you don’t have a good team. Make sure you’re vetting people with the same hunger and desire because when push comes to shove, especially when money is placed in front of you, and there’s a greater responsibility, people freak out. Friends might agree to get on board at the beginning, but it’s when you have to make big life changes, like leave their full time jobs and move to a new city is when see who’s in and who’s not. So, spend a lot of time “dating” people for that; it’s all qualitative and based on conversation.”