The 2018 Telstra Business Awards program concluded last night and we are incredibly proud of every one of our 31 national finalists. They each put forward an incredible case for their place as national winners and made our judges’ jobs extremely hard.

I am thrilled to share that Penten, a cybersecurity company from Canberra, was crowned the 2018 Telstra Australian Business of the Year, after also winning the Medium & Making Waves Award.

The judges were so impressed by Penten’s clear strategic vision, deep engagement for the customer and commitment to people and culture. Its innovative technology has gained the trust of Australian government agencies, propelling the business to exponential growth over the last three years.

CEO Matthew Wilson said the business strives to create world-leading cybersecurity technology for the country. However, due to the high-security nature of their operations, they often can’t even share details of their work with their families, let alone the wider public.

”We operate in a world of secrets. We don’t often get the chance to talk about the work that we’re doing, and celebrate in this way. It’s an amazing recognition and we are so grateful for the opportunity,” Mr Wilson said last night.

We also recognised five other remarkable businesses last night.

For many, it was ‘that’ moment – a memorable, stand-out moment in their business journey that will have significant impact in the future.

Scoot Boots, from Tasmania, won the Emerging & Energised Award. A game changer in the horseshoe industry, the business’ extraordinary growth, particularly in global markets, as well as its vision to increase life expectancy for horses was highly commended by the judges.

Pachamama, a childcare centre business from Western Australia which uses art and nature to encourage children to think outside the square, won the Small & Succeeding Award. The judges said Pachamama’s clear vision and business strategy, laser-like focus on its customer and dedication to providing a nurturing environment for its people, made it an outstanding business.

ThinkPlace, a strategic design consultancy from Canberra, took home the Social Change Maker Award. The judges were inspired by ThinkPlace’s vision of making the world a better place and solving problems through design. The projects the team tackle in Australia and abroad have a strong impact on communities.

Meanwhile, online book retailer Booktopia was the public’s favourite, winning the People’s Choice Award. It’s a testament to the business’ commitment to always delight its 4 million customers. The 14-year-old business has grown to 160 staff and turns over $115 million per year.

We were also proud to recognise once more the natural soft-drink brand, Nexba Beverages – who first won in 2015 – by selecting them as the first-ever 2018 Telstra Alumni Achievement Award. As the Awards helped the business gain recognition and credibility over the last three years, Nexba has achieved strong growth, raised several million dollars in capital and have developed new product ranges in close collaboration with Coles and Woolworths.

The six winners selected by the judges have incredible business minds and use their talent and ingenuity to find new and better ways to do new and better things. They’re not afraid to take a risk, to lead with innovation and to keep believing in their vision.

Congratulations to all!

The 2018 season may be over now, but nominations are already open for 2019. So if you want to nominate a business – even if it’s your own, go to the Telstra Business Awards website.