Ten Years On From The First 30 Under 30: Adam Penberthy

Ten Years On From The First 30 Under 30: Adam Penberthy

In 2009, Adam Penberthy was the managing director and founder of Fresh Advertising, with his passion and innovation seeing him become one of B&T‘s 30 Under 30 winners. Since then, he’s continued to create and innovate away from adland as the MD of City Winery, Brisbane.

As part of our celebratory content series marking 10 years since B&T‘s first ever 30 Under 30, we tracked down Fitzgerald to find out what he’s up to now. If you missed the others profiled in the series, check them out here.

Hear from Penberthy below about what winning one of B&T‘s 30 Under 30 awards meant to him, how his career has changed, and what advice he would give ambitious young starters who are looking to create their own business.

Adam Penberthy

Then: Founder/MD, Fresh Advertising

Now: MD, City Winery Brisbane

What did it mean to you at the ripe age of 26 that you were chosen as one of B&T’s 30 Under 30?

Geez, was probably a good ego stroke for me! In all seriousness, it was very exciting. It was early days for me in Fresh at that point, so having the media support and validate what we were doing was terrific!

How do you think being nominated affected your career, if at all?

Not really, probably if anything just a bit more validation that what Fresh was doing at that point.

What’s been the biggest change to your life since then?

Fresh (which still exists today) is now more a software development shop, largely working with startups and funded tech plays building out mobile applications. So it’s a large change from the advertising world we were in in the late 2000’s.

It has specifically been a result of clients pushing us more into tech development over the years, which in the end turned out to be an easier business and more profitable business than that of the advertising world, so we wound back the agency and wound up the dev side.

Since 2009, we’ve been involved as a venture partner/equity partner in a number of startups and most recently, making a move into the wine industry (which has always been a passion and love of mine).

Today whilst I’ve still got a foot in the Fresh camp, I’m firmly involved as co-founder of Brisbane’s first urban winery since 1860.

I’m excited about the change of focus, and mixing my love and interest in wine with a the new challenge of running a hospitality venue.

What words of wisdom would you have shared with your 26 year old self back then knowing what you do now?

Get overseas – we had the opportunity to do something really cool in Singapore and Hong Kong… I was busy in Australia and didn’t maximise the opportunity.

And – learn to exit. I wish I had been serious about exiting 5 years ago.

What are you most proud of?

Probably two things.

1) I guess the pivot from advertising to tech was a key change, we then expanded abroad, which proved to be an exciting and daunting experience.

2) I think the growth we had during the GFC – I think we were up like 40-50 per cent during the GFC as a result of a “head down and keep pushing forward” mentality, which in the end paid a dividend.

What do you see as the biggest challenges that face young people in advertising, marketing and media these days?

The landscape has changed completely, consumers have changed, client briefs have changed and the demands the agency world puts on you has only intensified.

Conversely, what’s the biggest opportunity for those under 30 now?

Work hard, hustle for work for the agency, have a side project and focus on ROI.

What was behind the move out of the advertising industry?

I love advertising, I love the creative side of the industry, but the economics of the business (particularly for small independent businesses) just doesn’t stack up.  It’s hard to make a crust.  We were lucky we always had a tech interest/side to the business, so a migration towards just focusing on tech was something relatively easy to do for us.

However, after 8 years in tech, I personally wanted to try new things and look at new opportunities. My passion is wine, I met an amazing winemaker, and the concept of an urban winery is something that I’ve watched keenly around the world.  To be at the helm of Brisbane’s first urban winery is something I’m really excited about! It’s an amazing challenge, but will be entirely rewarding…

There’s an entrepreneurial spirit behind a lot of our 30 Under 30 winners – true today as much as it was 10 years ago. What advice would you give those ambitious young starters who are looking to start their own business?

Do it.  Just start.  I started Fresh with a pack of business cards, a clapped out car and a dodgy old laptop (which was huge). There’s something about the art of learning to hustle and just going all in that forces you to just get on with it and make it a success… the old sink or swim adage.


Entries for this years 30 Under 30 Awards are now closed (although entries for the Snapchat Young Lions Competition just opened). The shortlist for B&T‘s tenth 30 Under 30 will be released Tuesday 26 March. Tickets for the award night on Thursday 11 April are on sale now. 


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