Turning good ideas into business gold
As published in Inside South Australia on March 28 2016
Jo Schneider describes herself as a serial entrepreneur – a creative condition that became habit-forming at an early age. She was just 11 when she came up with her first money-making venture – a tray of hand-made Jo’s Toffees which she sold in her mum’s shop. Other ideas soon followed.
Fast forward 22 years and Jo is an award-winning businesswoman whose high energy and entrepreneurial flair are highly sought after at universities and in large corporations across Australia.
She is the inspiration behind two companies – DVE Business Solutions and Animal Therapeutics Online – that together have a multi-million dollar turnover and an annual growth that would be the envy of most businesses.
It’s an impressive business pedigree for someone who is passionate about horse riding and at one stage dreamed of becoming a vet. “When I discovered there was no vet school in Adelaide at the time I ended up studying mechanical engineering at university,” said Jo.
Being the only girl in class didn’t faze her and the degree gained her a place at Holden where she was a senior manufacturing engineer on the general assembly line. “Again it was a male-dominated environment but it never bothered me – I just found it a really awesome place in which to work and I really enjoyed it,” said Jo.
But when she was offered a voluntary redundancy package in 2008 she leapt at the opportunity. It gave her the capital to start Animal Therapeutics Online to sell Activo-Med, a high-end German-made therapeutic product for high performance horses. Jo had the exclusive import rights in Australia and New Zealand – but the timing was terrible. “I’d planned on 10 years of exchange rates but the dollar crashed to a 30-year low and I couldn’t pay my mortgage. It was so hard I had a quick change of plan.”
Jo started DVE Business Solutions with her mother, Dianne van Eck, using her specialist manufacturing skills to help organisations improve their management processes and unlock creativity through ‘intrepreneurship’.
“I found it easy to identify improvements for organisations and that’s how we found our niche,” said Jo.
Today DVE employs 12 people and enjoys annual growth of about 80 per cent. Business is also now booming at Animal Therapeutics Online which has recorded 300 per cent annual growth over the past two years.
Her business insights are also in strong demand on the corporate speaker’s circuit with Jo donating her fees to Sunrise Cambodia