​Start-up Spotlight - Meet the new players shaking up the Aussie channel

​Start-up Spotlight - Meet the new players shaking up the Aussie channel

ARN examines the tech start-ups rising to prominence across the country.

In reflection of the increased levels of innovation across the industry, this newly created editorial initiative uncovers the emerging start-ups changing the face of the channel in Australia.


Team Hammerjack
Team Hammerjack

KEY TECH: Dynamics CRM, Business Intelligence
KEY VENDORS: Microsoft
KEY CUSTOMERS: Anytime Fitness, MorCo Fresh, Grant Thornton

Microsoft Gold Partner, Hammerjack, was born in December 2015, following a blending of three separate businesses and entrepreneurial minds.

By integrating a Microsoft specialist, a boutique business process outsourcing organisation operating out of the Philippines, and one new venture beginning to disrupt the local finance and accounting space, Will Wong, Nick Hastings and Andrew Mault became united through a collective ambition.

“Our goal was to help business and accounting firms to outsource to the Philippines, while overlaying the newest technology in helping them take their business through digital transformation,” Hammerjack technology partner, Nick Hastings, said.

“We believe that digital transformation didn’t start with the technology. It started with people first and then, identifying the process, moved through to technology to help drive those efficiencies within the business.”

Since inception, Hammerjack has grown from 20 employees to 90, as the company services more than 300 customers across the three channels under the Hammerjack banner.

“We are playing in a pretty broad space within the SMB sector,” Hastings explained. “Our smallest client turns over $100,000 and our largest client turns over $100 million.

“Some customers are purely finance and accounting, and some are technology clients where we offer services such as CRM [customer relationship management] or Office 365 and others have the whole suite.”

Hastings said that part of Hammerjack’s philosophy is the company’s coined phrase, ‘insights-as-a- service’, which means the ability to deliver actionable insights back to businesses and firms through technology.

“For example, overlaying things like Dynamic CRM, Power BI, and being able to deliver those in a live environment through the people resource that we have through our offshoring capability,” he explained.

Within the finance and accounting space, Hammerjack’s key differentiator is its own intellectual property, delivered through a platform called AskJack.

“It’s a knowledge- based platform of business and accounting processes that exists in the SMB market to build a library around a multitude of businesses, their processes and how they’re doing business; to go back to Jack to discover what the best processes are, how they work and how we can share it,” Hastings said.

In 2017, Hammerjack will expand its financial services to include super fund management through cloud services and business automation using artificial intelligence services through Microsoft.

“By the end of this year we’re hoping to have 200 heads,” Hastings added.

Thomas Peer

Udara Dharmadasa - CEO, Thomas Peer
Udara Dharmadasa - CEO, Thomas Peer

KEY TECH: Security, virtualisation, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)
KEY VENDORS: RSA, Veeam, Airwatch, VMware
KEY CUSTOMERS: Village Roadshow Entertainment, Catholic Education Office of Melbourne, Melbourne & Olympic Parks Trust

Starting out as a consultancy firm in 2012, Melbourne-based managed services company, Thomas Peer, has since experienced a serious growth spurt, expanding from three founders to 45 staff.

In 2016, the business turned over $2.56 million in revenue and, according to CEO, Udara Dharmadasa, its success can be attributed to its transition into a solution-centric company, integrating products for security, virtualisation and IaaS.

“During the last three years, we’ve expanded our sales force,” Dharmadasa said. “There’s lots of areas in which we are cross-selling and upselling to customers, and that’s how we’ve grown to this level.”

Thomas Peer operates through a specialist approach by honing in on topical pain points for its customers.

“We don’t focus on any particular verticals,” Dharmadasa said. “I think the vertical-centric approach is a thing of the past. Now, partners should focus on the latest pain points, which are mobility, security and data integrity.”

As largest provider of mobility through Airwatch in Melbourne, Thomas Peer picked up 40 customers in 2016.

“This year we’ll hire more salespeople because it’s what drives growth,” Dharmadasa added.

“We want to expand into new areas. We’re having major discussions with AWS at the moment, and want to increase our RSA portfolio through specifically targeted marketing campaigns to drive home the message of security, following all of the recent data breaches in the world. I am expecting 200 per cent growth in that sector.”

EFEX Group

Nick Sheehan - CEO, EFEX GroupCredit: Efex Group
Nick Sheehan - CEO, EFEX Group

KEY TECH: Managed print services, voice and data, IaaS, Device-as-a-Service
KEY VENDORS: Kyocera, Fuji Xerox, Dell EMC, Microsoft, Over the Wire
KEY CUSTOMERS: Capitol Health, Southern Cross Austereo, GWS Giants

EFEX Group has hit the industry running since its creation in 2013, taking an innovative approach through a subscription, as-a- service model for managed print services.

“We identified a gap in the market because there weren’t too many vendor- agnostic partners, it was dominated mainly by manufacturers,” EFEX Group CEO, Nick Sheehan, said.

“We have now grown the business from one employee to 35, and are expecting to do over $20 million revenue this year.”

Whilst the business was initially set up to deliver print services, Sheehan said that EFEX Group has expanded rapidly, transcending into other markets, including managed services, voice and data, infrastructure-as-a-service and device-as-a-service.

“In our move away from just print managed services, we call it ‘share-of-wallet’,” he explained.

“Every customer has got a certain amount of money they spend on these things, so for us, we offer great service from a print perspective, and now we can offer new services to that existing customer base and are cross-selling. We expect this year to be our biggest yet.”

Sheehan said the company is strong in the SMB space, because initially, EFEX Group was a small business itself.

“But as we’re growing, we now have the capability and the infrastructure to do deals with bigger businesses of up to 500 seats,” he said.


Craig Searle - Co-founder, Hivint
Craig Searle - Co-founder, Hivint

KEY TECH: Cyber security
KEY CUSTOMERS: Atlassian, ME Bank, Ashurst, AMP

Operating with a philosophy of community-driven security, professional services and consultancy company, Hivint, looks set to create a shift in the local security space.

Since establishing operations in February 2015, the business has become one of the fastest growing cyber-security firms in Australia.

In less than two years, Hivint has expanded to 26 employees with offices dotted around the country in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Building on Hivint’s offerings in professional services, spanning cyber-security consultancy, penetration testing, strategy and governance, the company’s key differentiator is its subscription portal, the Security Colony.

Born through the theory that 80 per cent of consulting is recycled material and processes, and 20 per cent is client-specific tailoring and ‘original thought’, the Colony is the answer to the key question posed by Hivint co-founders, Craig Searle and Nick Ellsmore: why not collaborate and share the 80 per cent of each project?

“The intent is to allow other organisations to stop having to reinvent the wheel,” Searle said.

“We may develop a network security policy for a large big four bank, and a Colony subscriber can get access to an anonymised version of that resource and customise it, rebrand it for their own purposes.

“Through this platform, all organisations get access to the same types of service and content that would be delivered to ASX top-10 organisations, but at a compelling price point.

“Our acceptance rate for that kind of model has been in the 95 per cent-plus range.”

Looking forward, Searle said Hivint’s key priorities for the year will be heavy investment in Colony, so the company can expand its offerings in terms of features, functionality and content.

This article originally appeared in the February issue of ARN Magazine - to subscribe click here

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Tags Thomas PeerEFEX GroupHivintHammerjack

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