Behind the screens: How our startup delivered $6.5 million in revenue in one year

- January 14, 2014 3 MIN READ

Right from the outset, we knew we wanted to take a different approach to other consultancies. Consulting firms can be a black box, with consultants wanting to hold to as much of their intellectual property and insights as they can so you need to hire them time and again. But at Chamonix, we took a distinct approach. We work with our clients, in a mentoring relationship, and have a policy of not withholding IP. This partnership with the client makes for a more trusting relationship and our ultimate aim is to up-skill our clients so they can manage themselves, rather than having to call on consultants for minor issues.

This strategy has its risks: we can potentially work ourselves out of a job by training our clients to be able to fix the issues we were originally hired to solve. However, our view has always been that if we do the right thing by people, there will always be business. We want people to want to work with us, not need to, so this customer service model has been of critical importance.

And so far it has worked, with our South Australian office of 50 staff turning over $6.5 million last financial year and our Melbourne team of 25 staff really starting to come into its own. As the third fastest growing company in the State, we are in an ideal position to secure jobs for South Australians.

Our focus on getting recruitment right has been crucial since our inception. Often in IT, it is easy to get caught up in the technology, policies and processes, but ensuring you have a solid team of people who want to work for you and understand your business is vital.

Initially when you operate a business, you do all the work yourself. But as we grew, we realized we would need to delegate. We began to feel the need to work on the business rather than in the business. There was pressure to look after the business as a whole, rather than just getting all the work done.

It was not an easy process and it was something I personally struggled with. But it is imperative that as directors, we employ people we can trust to carry on our work. We look for not only the most talented people, but those who fit in with the culture and bring the right ideals to our company.  That’s how you grow well – you don’t risk sacrificing your culture. People tell us we have a unique ability to pick the right people and we have always been careful about this. Our employee referral program helps, as well as our strong networking.

Our people are motivated to deliver great experience and great client service. And they love working for Chamonix. This has built a great reputation for us in the marketplace, among both clients and potential recruits. Adelaide is a great place to build a business based on the strengths of a team, who you know counts – our people are known for all of the right reasons.

Right timing has also been key to our growth success. We are constantly talking with our clients, partners, vendors, friends, and listening to what they – our market – is telling us. This has given us the ability to keep an eye on trends and develop the capabilities to meet those demands.

Another central factor in our success has been our belief in what we’re offering. If we had listened to contemporaries and nay-sayers when we were starting out in 2010, we would not be where we are today. But we saw an opportunity for growth and never stopped believing it was possible.

Similarly, we are now feeling a wave of negativity around the future of growth in South Australia after the exit of Holden and the demise of the car manufacturing industry. But we are in a unique position – the upcoming South Australian election offers us the opportunity to discuss policies and ideas that could make Adelaide the next Silicon Valley. It’s definitely possible because we have some very clever people and great living conditions. I believe we need to shift our focus from manufacturing towards being smarter with our plans.

So the future for Chamonix is to now transition out of our startup rapid growth stage and adjust our growth targets to focus on consolidation in the coming years. We will continue to grow over the next 12 months, in particular leveraging opportunities where great people knock on our door. We will continue to focus internally as well to ensure we retain great people and maintain our reputation as a great place to work.

Provide a unique point of difference, invest in your people and believe in what you’re doing, and your clients will want to work with you, even if you’re teaching them to do the work for themselves. That’s been the philosophy for Scott Grigg, Director of Chamonix IT Management Consulting, whose company has grown from a startup with five partners and $150,000 in upfront capital to a multi-million dollar turnover with 75 staff in just three years.