Interview by Jeanne Vida Douglas
At just 23, Anna Fogarty had her first brush with the vagaries of the business cycle. Working as an information-technology project manager with a software development company in the United Kingdom, her project was cancelled as a result of the tech crash.
Fogarty returned to Australia with just a little money but a lot of ideas. “In the UK, my business partner and I had been working on a data management tool designed for clinical trials, but the project was dropped when the tech crash hit,” she says.
“We came back to Australia with about $10.000 between us, and decided to invest it in our own company, making the same tool, but making it generic so that it could be applied to different industries.”
With Fogarty working on the sales, and technical director Craig Cameron working on the code, Web and Flo was launched as an organization to create and commercialize web-based data-flow management software, which was introduced in 2004 under the name of Kontinuum.
“We start out with a simple process map or diagram that enables companies to create their own workflow tool and apply it to a specific project or business model,” Fogarty says.
“We can either help with the development process, or simply sell the development platform, and let the customer run their own projects.”
Working part=time while the underlying software was developed, she gradually expanded the customer base from mid-sized business through to high-end corporate clients.
Fogarty says an important turning point came when she managed to sign up a big commercial bank to the service.
“Scoring one of the big four banks really boosted our credibility and our confidence,” Fogarty says. “We came back here with no networks of contacts, and had to build up that whole side of the business from scratch.”
Having proved the concept with a range of Australian customers, Web and Flo began to expand its customer base into the United States and Europe, thanks largely to an aggressive web presence and videoconferencing technologies.
“if you put”workflow” into Google, we invariably come up at the top of the sponsored links, which has been an important way to establish our reputation. The tool is 100 per cent web-based, and so is a lot of our sales and training,” Fogarty says.
“A lot of businesses still like to know they have someone there physically to support them, but we use a web-based tool from Citrix called GotoMeerings to handle a lot of our presentations.”
With six staff and revenues doubling annually, Fogarty says she rarely has to seek customers because the web-based advertising supplies a steady stream of leads form around the world.
“When I came back to Australia originally, I knew we had a good idea but I had no experience in sales,” she says.” So it’s easier now that we are established and I rarely need to go out and look for the new work.”
“I knew this would happen eventually, but at first I was a little naïve and thought it would all happen straight away.”
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