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40 Under 40 winner of the day: Leko Novakovic

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Leko Novakovic went into business with his brother Milenko hiring out equipment for live entertainment in 2001.

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Over the years the Novatech Production Services experienced significant growth in the live concert and festival market. In 2010 the company changed its name to Novatech Creative Event Technology to reflect the ever-increasing demand for high calibre technical management services and move toward providing total presentation solutions rather than just equipment hire.

Today, Novatech employs 48 permanent staff, over 50 casual production support staff and are involved in staging over 1400 events every year including the Adelaide Fringe, Clipsal 500, Netball World Cup 2015 and WOMADelaide.

Leko was last month named a winner of the inaugural InDaily 40 Under 40 Awards.

We asked the 39-year-old some more about doing business in South Australia.

What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?

At Novatech, we believe firmly in the many benefits of doing business in South Australia. It’s easy to get around – you could easily attend eight business meetings in Adelaide in a single day versus a much lower number over on the east coast. There is also a lower cost of living for staff and owners, which makes it attractive when recruiting interstate staff.

In Adelaide, compared to other cities, there is an ease of doing business that makes it possible to shut down multiple main roads for an event in the CBD such as Australian Tourism Exchange SA dinner this year. In terms of geography, South Australia is centrally located, which makes things easier from a freight and passenger travel perspective.

What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?

There are a number of restrictions when conducting business in South Australia that inhibit potential growth. With a significantly smaller population that the eastern states, the budget for projects is naturally smaller in South Australia.

Novatech is frequently breaking the perception that a company that operates out of Adelaide does not have the capacity or capability to execute large scale, quality events. This perception causes difficulty across multiple industries. For example,  Novatech was selected as a member of the global network of leading event equipment rental specialists, the AV Alliance. Membership is by invitation only, with strict standards checked regularly by personal inspection. Members of the alliance must use only state-of-the-art technology and adhere to international best practices in health and safety.

There is also some red tape in SA that prevents business events from taking place or taking a certain direction. Whilst not as severe as some places, there could be improvements at multiple levels of government.

Do you see your future in South Australia?

As a family business, we have made a conscious decision to remain in Adelaide. We’re into our 18th year of business and have kept our headquarters for the entire journey. For us, we are committed to proving wrong the perception that quality execution out of Adelaide cannot exist. We are determined to continue working at a national and international level delivering services at a world-class standard. We use the strengths that South Australia offers in trying to grow our business here while working across the country and the world.

How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?

We’re excited about the future of our business and are always looking for talented people. We’ve successfully recruited talent from Perth, Sydney and Melbourne by increasing opportunities for young graduates.

The SA school and university systems are fantastic but the lack of opportunity post qualification is a deterrent for young people. In order to do this the government needs to commit to attracting big organisations such as Google; removing red tape to make it easy for startups and entrepreneurs; allowing easier access to funding and grant money. Businesses like ours need to work with government to create opportunities for young people to grow and develop here, which will contribute back to the state and industry.

More about 40 Under 40

An assessment panel representing the South Australian business community judged hundreds of nominees for the inaugural 40 Under 40 awards, which aim 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:

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