From relatively humble beginnings as a shareware distributor, Manaccom founder and managing director, Ian Mackay, has built his company into a software powerhouse. He speaks to Matthew Sainsbury about starting out as an accountant, some of the challenges in running a company, and travelling Australia in a caravan.
What was your first job? Originally, I started my working life as an accountant.
How did you end up in the IT industry? Early on, in 1975, I was asked by the senior partner to find a computing system for the accounting practice. I looked around, and in late 1975 we installed a dualfloppy computing system in the fi rm. Soon after, in March 1976, I joined the company that supplied that computer – it was called Hartley Computers.
How did you progress to Manaccom from there?
I ended up on the board of Hartley Computers, which was based in Brisbane, and we became a computer manufacturer in 1980. I then decided to leave the company in 1983, to start up an IBM VAR business that specialised in the accounting profession, which I ran until around 1986. In 1986, I saw what I thought was a wonderful concept called ‘shareware’ in the US, so I started up Manaccom as a shareware distributor, where I was working from home. I’ve been with Manaccom ever since.
What keeps you coming back? As the person who started up the company, I’ve found it an interesting challenge to reinvent every 6-12 months in order to stay competitive in the market. I’ve seen so many people come and go with grandiose ideas who were not able to bring them to fruition.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen over the years? I recall saying to people in the 1980s that one day all small businesses and farmers and newsagents would have a computer. At the time people laughed at me and said that it’s not going to happen, and of course now every small business could not survive without computing of some sort. Computing has been a big change – it has gone from being something for boffins, to the PC becoming easier and easier to use, to becoming now a consumer item.
What is the biggest achievement of your career so far? I think to stay in business from 1986 to now, and be profitable every year, is my biggest achievement.
What do you dislike most about the IT industry? People with big ideas, and big talkers who have no substance – they end up damaging the industry, and it is a common problem out there. What will be the next big thing? If I knew that I’d be laughing – I think that’s the best answer I can give.
What’s the main focus for Manaccom over the next 12 months? For the next year we’re looking to continue to expand on the range of products we offer, and we’ll continue to aim to offer a high level of distribution service, rather than just moving boxes.
What are some of the products you’re looking at adding to the portfolio? I can’t nominate products by name obviously, but we’re looking for products that work for small businesses and consumers alike.