At the awards ceremony earlier this month, Rees was announced as the winner of the “First Among Equals” award, which recognises the leader who exemplified the qualities of the entire 40.
Rees developed GenWise Health with business partner Troye Wallet to improve GP care in the aged care sector using technology – essentially creating an online and, therefore mobile, clinic.
The business has already been recognised widely, including being named 2017 Telstra Australian Business of the Year.
“It’s giving general practice ‘wheels’ – it’s mobilising,” Rees says. “Where there are patients who have difficulty gaining access to a GP clinic, we go to them.”
Rees says the 40 Under 40 awards were an opportunity for young business owners and entrepreneurs to inspire each other and the broader community.
“One of the coolest parts of it was seeing people get so excited about South Australian business owners – the next generation of entrepreneurs – passionately believing in the future of South Australia,” he said. “It gets business owners focused again on what’s important. I think it’s a great initiative.”
Rees’s award was supported by InDaily with the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
We asked him some more about doing business in South Australia.
What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?
South Australia offers start-ups and entrepreneurs an ideal environment to bring ideas to life. This is based on a combination of entrepreneurial spirit, a thriving IT community and a lower cost of living/working. For GenWise, starting up in Adelaide gave us the opportunity to run lean for a while before we found our feet and also to be surrounded by other inspiring businesses who gave us encouragement along the way.
What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?
Obviously not having the same population as Sydney or Melbourne is a challenge. Not having the same volume means that a startup or small business really has to work hard to get that initial traction. However, this can also work in favour of a startup, offering a smaller, pilot-like city to build their product or service in before rolling our nationally or globally. For GenWise, Adelaide served as a great home base to test ideas out before scaling and is still very much our “incubator city” for new ideas.
Do you see your future in South Australia?
Absolutely. South Australia is the HQ for GenWise and we will keep it that way. Although I do travel a lot around the country as GenWise is rolled out nationally, we still look to South Australia as setting the pace for the future. We are continuing to invest in South Australia and see real change coming as more and more businesses are starting up, innovating and setting the scene for South Australia to be the Australian tech and startup city of the future.
How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?
People will seek out opportunity, adventure, excitement and fun, so South Australia needs to offer a combination of these. At the same time I think South Australians need to travel, work interstate or overseas and gain experience and exposure – but then return to work on their own projects back at home.
More about 40 Under 40
As assessment panel representing the South Australian business community judged hundreds of nominees for the inaugural 40 Under 40 awards, which aims to identify and promote a new generation of local leaders under the age of 40.
The final 40 includes a hugely varied collection of South Australian talents, who are making a mark in fields such as health, technology, the media, property, social innovation, agriculture, finance, the law, and much more.
For the full list of 40 Under 40 winners go here.
40 Under 40 is an InDaily initiative supported by the following partners:
- Piper Alderman
- Australian Institute of Business
- Australian Institute of Company Directors
- Underwood Executive
- City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters
- Local Government Association of South Australia
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