Case Study

Custom Neon – 2022 Geelong Business of the Year

Jess’ love story started in 2016. After being given tough advice – that she should leave the company where she worked as she would never get the role for which she was aspiring – Jess’ tenacity went into overdrive. Based in Adelaide at the time, Jess was determined to excel in her career with Geelong global fashion retail giant Cotton On. And she did.

It was a move that changed Jess’ life forever. Not only did she flourish in her new role and fall in love with the vibrancy of Geelong, after only six months here, she met the man who would become her husband, Jake Munday.

Jake was well-known in Geelong for his volunteering, not only at Kardinia Church running youth activities and social events for secondary school students such as food fight nights, spotlighting, the amazing race, progressive dinners, and gladiator wars, but he also volunteered his time to Red Frogs schoolies program, providing a positive peer presence to school leavers. Growing up Jake was highly regarded amongst family and friends for his entrepreneurial prowess and tenacity to succeed.

Motivated to start a business based on people’s love of dogs, in 2014 Jake acquired the popular Dog Lovers international Facebook page when it already had an impressive 430,000 fans. With a skilled social media strategy, Jake grew the page to attract 4.3 million followers within 12 months. He was approached by United States investors to sell the page – which he did – and this move set him up to expand his business portfolio.

In 2017, he was awarded Geelong’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year, following his massive success of an online teeth whitening company. Pearly Whites Australia started in January 2015 and turned over just $4000 in the first eight months of operation. Jake took on the business in August 2015 and managed to grow it by more than 10,000 percent.

The year 2018 was pivotal for the young couple. Jake and Jess welcomed their first child, a son, were married, and began their exciting business journey together – Custom Neon (Originally Neon Collective).

Jake and Jess started Custom Neon with a $500 investment after identifying a gap in the market whilst looking for a cool, affordable, and safe LED neon sign for their young son’s bedroom. Custom Neon is now a global business operating out of north Geelong, forecast to become a $15 million business by the end of this year.

Jake and Jess say much of their business success has been because of their strong local connections and good business relationships, especially the relationships they formed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Like many local businesses, Custom Neon had to ‘pivot’ during COVID, and for Jess and Jake this involved turning their focus from weddings and events to something slightly different. They reached out to local businesses and offered discounts to encourage businesses to invest in new signage.

“This strategy worked well as we were helping local businesses, yet also growing our portfolio of business signs and user-generated content, which massively assisted with our B2B marketing and SEO endeavors. It was really hard seeing our city so desolate when you are so accustomed to its vibrancy and energy. But the determination and community spirit were also so inspiring,” Jess says.

The list of top-tier national and global brands choosing Custom Neon is impressive. Google, Facebook, Hilton, Cotton On, Country Road, David Jones, Kookai, Adidas, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Australian Open and RMIT University are just some of the big brands this local power couple have worked with.

Today, Custom Neon continues to go from strength to strength, winning the Digital Engagement Award in 2020 At the Geelong Business Excellence Awards they trumped that in 2021 to win Best Medium to Large Business/Division of a Business, and coming out of COVID, in 2022 they won the Business of the Year award at the Geelong Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards, the most prestigious local business award available.

“It was so rewarding to receive these awards, particularly in the company of so many incredible local businesses,” Jake says.

Jake and Jess have some interesting highlights along the way, including Paris Hilton sliding into their direct messages and creating a sign for Elon Musk!

The couple who now live in Manifold Heights with their three children are delighted at how far they have come in the last five years and are excited to see what the future holds!

To find out more about Custom Neon, head to