$40 million
Jamie Pickering 40

23Surfers Paradise. When Jamieson Pickering left school at 16 to work on the family’s tomato farm in Gosford, few who knew him would have predicted that by 40 he would be chairman and the biggest shareholder of an Australian Stock Exchange-listed company that employs about 100 people and has offices in Britain and the United States. The only reminder of this transformation is the name of his company — Tomato Technologies. He established the company, which provides stockmarket analysis and portfolio management software, in 1998 with a business partner, Craig Duffy (see separate listing).

It almost beggars belief why Pickering has become successful. Neither he nor Duffy had a business background and they knew nothing about information technology. But Pickering did have something going for him. He says: “I don’ t consider myself a very intelligent person, to be honest. I think if anything, I ooze common sense.” Another asset is that he grew up close to successful people. His father, renowned cartoonist Larry Pickering, was close to high achievers, which gave his son the opportunity to see how they operated. “You see them doing it and you think, ‘I can do this too’.”

The idea for Tomato Technologies came to Pickering and Duffy as they could not understand any of the existing stockmarket products. Although interested in shares, they did not know anything about software, so they hired people to create it and they put their energies into sales and marketing. Pickering says: “Anything we didn’t know we got someone who does know it …we don’t look at anything as being impossible.”

Pickering also has a share and property portfolio. Before starting Tomato Technologies he was part-owner of a nightclub in Surfers Paradise, and earlier this year he bought three Gold Coast nightclubs. He is married and has six children.