How Peter Moriarty built an IT business which caught Google’s attention

Name: Peter Moriarty

Company: itGenius Australia

Location: Sydney

Peter Moriarty wasn’t your average teenager. Far removed from the lazy, live-off-our-parents Gen Y stereotype, Moriarty started his business, itGenius Australia, from rural Sydney suburb of Glenorie in 2004 at the young age of 15, while still in high school.

As a “kidpreneur”, he didn’t want to work at McDonald’s like his friends, so he started with a backpack and a push bike going round to friends and family’s houses fixing their computer problems.

He started off helping people making their computers run faster or synchronise their Mp3 players with their music libraries. But while still in high school, Moriarty started attracting clients and he often spent time in the library hooking into someone else’s server, doing remote support and reconciling his accounts on MYOB.

After finishing high school, Moriarty worked in a small business for a year with one of his own clients, continuing to run his business on the side. But after a year, he decided to dedicate his time to itGenius.

The business now supports a range of companies, from small businesses with five employees to big firms with a staff of 200, and focuses on providing an IT helpdesk service and helping companies move from traditional servers to the cloud, embracing software like Google Apps.

In the past four-and-a-half years since Moriarty started working on the business full-time, turnover has grown to just under $1 million and is on track to reach between $1-2 million next financial year.

SmartCompany talked to Moriarty about his plans for the business, Google’s recent mentorship and creating a business from something you love.

Mornings

Before getting to the office, Moriarty likes to start the day with a breakfast meeting at 7am.

“If I’m actually in the office for the day there are always interruptions. I prefer to get a breakfast meeting done and then step into the office around 8-8.30am.

Moriarty’s role has changed within the business and now he’s responsible for managing an executive team, rather than doing the technical IT work.

“I have an IT director, a sales manager and a deposits manager as well. My number one job is to manage those guys.”

On a Monday, he kicks off the week with a meeting to review the business’s performance over the past week.

“We track a lot of statistics in the business. We have a weekly meeting with the executive team every Monday morning, and we actually review all of the statistics from each division of the business. We review the sales numbers, how many tickets we’ve closed and how much we’ve delivered to clients, and we do the finances and how much revenue we’ve brought in from collections.

We also develop a battle plan for the week because we’re very focused on continual improvement. To be really fast at keeping up with all the changes that are happening in the industry, we need to be always moving.

Daily Life

Moriarty says his primary focus within the business is finding new clients.

“It’s my job, I guess, just to keep feeding the funnel and bringing new people in.

“The core management function of the business is that weekly meeting. Day to day, my responsibility is still doing the larger sales for new clients. So I develop solutions to the newer clients that come on board and develop a project scope ready to hand off to the rest of the team to implement.”

To stay ahead of the game, he also spends time researching new tools and working on product development.

Moriarty says has never had a need to do outbound marketing campaigns because “the kind of businesses we want to work with will find us”.

“We do get some leads from Google, but I also do a lot of speaking and presentations on technology and where it’s going and business systemisation. I’m quite passionate about how technology can change business and how business owners can leverage technology to actually give their business growth. If you’re just looking at technology as something you’re a slave to, then it’s never actually going to help your business.

“My passion is to help change people’s mentality and get them to use technology as a tool to actually drive their business forward. Whatever I can do to promote that, whether it’s speaking to business education groups or at industry events, whatever I can do to get that message out there I will do because I’m passionate about it,” Moriarty says.

Moriarty usually does at least one speaking engagement a week and has also recently started a weekly radio program.

“I do a weekly radio show on small business and technology. It’s on a station called Eagle Waves Radio, which is an internet radio station in Sydney. It will be Thursday evenings 6-7pm, focused on small businesses and technology, and will help small business owners find their way around technology in plain English, rather than being bamboozled by whatever their IT guy says.”

His passion for technology is clear, so it’s surprising he wasn’t actually brought up with the latest gadgets.

“I went to a Steiner school, so I grew up without computers, with only very minimal TV and no Gameboys or anything like that.

“I guess I had a problem-solving mind and when I was 10 or 11 I was introduced to computers and really loved them. As the parable goes, my dad brought home a couple of computers that he found and said ‘if you can fix it, you can have it to play with your brothers’. So we got a book, we fixed them and then it went from there.”

Now, Moriarty likes to be at the forefront of changing technology.

“The slow movers in the industry are quite scared of this whole cloud thing. We see it in our industry meetings, a lot of people are scared they can’t make their money selling Microsoft Office anymore. Progressive businesses like us are finding new ways to still be relevant and the others are just going to drop off really.

“There are heaps of people in the IT industry, most have been in business for 10-15 years and are still selling what we like to call ‘old-school’ solutions. Still trying to sell business servers worth $20,000 or $30,000, when we walk in and save them $20,000 off a capital expense by moving them to cloud,” he says.

itGenius now has between 30 to 40 core clients, many of which Moriarty sees as “market leaders”.

“We find the kinds of businesses we work with are very progressive market leaders. They’re the kind of businesses we attract, the ones which are happy to do things differently,” he says.

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