Smart50 Awards 2021: AZoNetwork


REVENUE: $9.9 million
GROWTH: 36.2%
FOUNDER: Ian Birkby (59)
INDUSTRY: Science and technology

How it started

Dr. Ian Birkby moved to Sydney after selling a UK business that manufactured advanced ceramics for industrial applications. Quickly seeing an opportunity to educate engineers, designers and scientists on advanced materials through the internet, he emigrated to Australia and launched his global internet business AZoNetwork from Sydney.

However, this was just before the dot com crash, and decades before Zoom and video calling were standard with Birkby telling SmartCompany he would have been better off starting the business 10 years later, as distance was a huge obstacle in the early years.


Birkby changed the business model to add a Marketing-as-a-Service (Maas) platform that distributes open access scientific information, noting that the company now has 10 million global monthly unique visitors and 860,000 subscribers.

Things really started taking off around 2012, according to Birkby, with AZoNetwork growing at an average 24% CAGR, with the pandemic hastening the shift to digital for clients. 

That led to revenue for the business increasing from $7.67 million to $9.92 million from the 2019-20 to 2020-21 financial years.

Where to next?

AZoNetwork is in the process of developing and launching its marketing analytics platform, which will integrate all the main CRM platforms, alongside Google Analytics, SEO keywords, and Google AdWords campaigns.

After that, the goal is to IPO in the next couple of years, according to Birkby.