Mobile network operator tops list of Australia fastest-growing tech companies

Junior mobile phone company ComTel has been crowned Australia’s fastest-growing technology company by winning the top spot on Deloitte Technology’s Fast 50 list.

Junior mobile phone company ComTel has been crowned Australia’s fastest-growing technology company by winning the top spot on Deloitte Technology’s Fast 50 list.

The company, which was profiled on SmartCompany earlier this year, is one of the leaders in the areas of SMS advertising, and recently launched Australia’s first SMS-subsidised mobile phone plans.

The company’s revenue grew at a staggering 1302% over the last three years, placing it just ahead of consulting firm Thomas Duryea Consulting (961% growth) and digital services group TigerSpike (912% growth).

A number of companies from SmartCompany’s Smart50 awards also made the list, including Vroom Vroom Vroom (388% growth), My Net Fone (325% growth), Atlassain (255% growth),ispONE (261%) and Aconex (237% growth).

Growth in the overall list has been boosted by surge in the number of new companies (more than half of the list is made up of debut entries) and strong growth in the number of software firms, with 19 software companies on the 2008 list compared with just seven last year.

Joshua Tanchel, leader of Deloitte Technology’s Fast 50 program, says innovation across various software areas has helped lift the Australia software industry.

“There’s a lot of software development happening in the mobile space and across many different vertical industry segments. It’s those companies being in the right space at the right time.”

The average firm on the list has been in business for 10 years, has 77 employees and earnings before interest and tax of $2.1 million.

Privately-owned companies once again dominate the index, with 37 winners in private hands compared to 13 publicly-listed entities, down from a high of 27 in 2002.

In a particularly encouraging sign, the average amount spent on research and development last financial year was just over $905,000.

Tanchel says it is crucial for technology companies to continue to spend on R&D, despite the difficult market conditions that have made it hard to obtain funding.

“The market’s not going to stop, so companies need to continue to invest,” Tanchel says. It comes back to very disciplined working-capital management. Companies are going to need to be more careful in managing their cashflow and setting aside funds for R&D.”

Tacnhel also fears the current climate will make it hard for Australian IT companies to expand offshore.

“In this climate, really only the best-of-the-best will be able to do that.”

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