Pickstar wins Smart 50 Innovator Award

Pickstar has won the 2021 SmartCompany Plus Innovator award, beating out strong competition from a range of SMEs.

The award - announced at a virtual ceremony - was based on businesses that show initiatives that spark progressive change in their industry or business, original ideas and disruptive strategies.

The Pickstar Group also ranked #20th in Australia on the Smart50 list for 2021, which is based on revenue growth for SMEs over the past 12 months.On the innovation award, the Smart50 judges noted how the founders were able to innovate to solve a clear problem in their industry through the creation of our SaaS platform, VLAST, which assists leagues, clubs and rights holders in managing talent activation.

Pickstar Group CEO James Begley said it was an honour for the business to receive the award.“To see the competition we’ve edged out to win this award, it’s something we’re really proud of,” Begley said.“Our team, which we call the Pickstar family, has worked so incredibly hard over the past two years, so for the business to be acknowledged in this way is fantastic. It’s the effort of our staff across Australia, the UK and US that’s got us this award.”One judge called the startup “a business with clear purpose, determined founders and lots of resilience — necessary ingredients for success in what can be a fickle market”.

The Smart50 judges were also impressed with the way the founders have woven innovation into their leadership, building time and space for creativity into every role in the business.Pickstar initially launched as an online platform to connect sports stars to commercial opportunities. Since then, it’s grown to include celebrities, chefs, comedians and media personalities, and connects hundreds of organisations each month to stars for guest speaking, marketing campaigns and appearances.

With in-person events put on hold in 2020 and 2021, the decision was made to solve another challenge - assisting clubs, leagues, rights holders and agencies with talent activation. With this, the idea of VLAST was created. VLAST now boasts clients including the NFL, NRL, Australian Cricketers Association, West Ham United, Vanguard and more.Since 2007, the Smart50 Awards have recognised Australia’s top 50 fastest growing SMEs. After a break in 2019 and 2020, the awards returned this year with the support of major partner MYOB.

About Pickstar
Pickstar Group offers a simple, online marketplace that helps people to connect with sports stars, celebrities and personalities, with an end-to-end digital platform that enables the fast and effective bookings of talent for any type of commercial arrangement. Founded in 2017 by two former AFL athletes, James Begley and Matthew Pavlich, Pickstar Group has become the most trusted platform for facilitating paid talent engagements, large and small.

In addition to Pickstar’s Marketplace, Pickstar Group offers VLAST, a tool created by players, for players. The tool offers talent and sporting bodies an easy and efficient way to manage all aspects of valuable talent appearances and activities. It improves the talent experience, reduces administrative costs and removes human error - empowering talent, agencies, brands, and rights owners to maintain and develop more meaningful relationships and appearances.

VLAST caters to the needs of the sponsorship, activation, and endorsement ecosystem. It offers a centralised dashboard providing automatic scheduling, messaging, and holistic overviews of the most important elements of activation.

With offices in Adelaide, New York and London, Pickstar Group’s reach is truly global and with expansion into new star categories including chefs, media and wellness influencers, Pickstar can find a meaningful connection for any business and any opportunity.

Go to for more information on Pickstar or for more information on Vlast.