Tucked away in the town of Scoresby, Victoria, is a company boasting a 25-year history in the ICT business. Part network system integration and part ISP, Minopher counts Cisco, HP and Fujitsu as vendor partners and is a certified devotee of Apple.
The company was founded by Chris Hurley in 1985. He started at an engineering consulting firm fresh from university but when a permanent position could not be secured, Hurley bade the organisation farewell and forayed into the ICT industry. He was 21 at the time.
“It was daunting when I first started out but I had mentors who were senior consulting engineers at the time and they encouraged me to set-up my own company,” Hurley said. “I've never gone back into a full-time job; no one has made an attractive enough offer.”
Minopher’s initial focus was to provide services and technology primarily to the printing press and graphic design sector. Computers were becoming a standard fixture in society and newspapers had begun converting operations from print to electronic files for publishing.
“Those guys had to move files and storage between Melbourne, Sydney and various offices,” Hurley said. “We worked a fair bit with publishers, taking files and taking them straight to the press.
“We actually produced some of the first full coloured books in Melbourne, which I am proud of.”
Nowadays, the company predominantly deal with small businesses and the government sector.
Minopher continued as a one-man show for a decade before the Internet exploded onto the ICT scene. It was then that the network integrator branched out into the ISP space, which is still considered its biggest move.
“I went over to the US to take a closer look at the Internet business and spoke with some companies,” Hurley said. “I saw the way the industry was heading and how computers are moving more into people's lives.”
He reminisced, with some irony, about certain individuals who saw no merit in the proliferation of personal computers and how the Internet would change the way we worked.
“One person I was speaking to in 1995 had just gotten out of university and joined the workforce. Computers were just coming in and he thought he could get away without learning how to use them, saying 'I won't need them in my career',” Hurley explained.
“I bumped into him 10 years later and he now manages the computer section of his company, so things really have changed.”
One peculiar characteristic of Minopher is its commitment to Apple hardware. The company runs most of its operations on Macbook computers.
“We're different in that we run our Internet services on Macs,” Hurley said. “I believe we are the first all-Mac ISP.
“Our Web servers, DNS, mail servers all run on Mac.” According to Hurley, there were less security issues and viruses when using Macs to run the business.
Minopher's ISP segment services home and business customers, which works in its favour as satisfied residential subscribers often recommend its service to their workplace. It has found success in the Internet business and, as a result, now has funds to hire four full-time staff. Being an ISP is also good for Minopher's networking business.
“From the Internet, we then offer to look after a company's network, file servers, Windows or Mac servers, desktops and laptops,” Hurley said. Cross-selling services and hardware is also an effective way to compensate for the slim margins of reselling Internet services, he said.