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40under40 - 1st Among Equals

Overcoming hurdles, striving for excellence, and sheer determination are attributes that resonate from Mr Buzza’s persona.

His story is one of overcoming a life threatening illness to become a young computer programming protégé that led to the creation of Commtech Wireless, a company that turned over $5 million last financial year.

At 14 Mr Buzza was diagnosed with astrocytoma, a rare brain tumour located on the motor section of the brain.

While recovering from life-saving brain surgery he began to tinker with computers and managed to secure a loan from his dad, along with a 24 per cent interest rate, that allowed him to continue program development.

By the time he had returned to school Mr Buzza had developed a computer game known as Qubert.

Instead of doing what any ordinary 14-year-old would have done and flogged it to his friends, he set up a company to promote the game.

Mr Buzza endeavoured to make appointments with major electronics companies who were not too keen to listen, let alone buy a game developed by a 14-year old.

However, he was able to secure an appointment with a leading electronics supplier. He borrowed his dad’s suit and began sales discussions with that supplier, Philips. The company purchased the game and distributed it worldwide with their new range of computers.

It was not the last game Mr Buzza developed. A few years later he created the laser game Qazar that was later sold to rock outfit U2 and is played around the globe.

At 18, he got a taste of management with his appointment as R & D manager and executive director of one of the world’s largest nursecall manufacturers Austco Communications.

At Austco Mr Buzza developed nursecall technology that is employed in hospitals around the world.

His experience in developing products for the nursecall industry presented him with new ideas and new ways of developing technology.

Mr Buzza believed he could get a computer program to send messages to a transmitter and have the same program monitor other industry systems and send messages when alarms were triggered. His colleagues were not as convinced and with nothing more than an idea and determination, Mr Buzza, 21, quit Austco to go it alone and develop the program.

What he started was Commtech Wireless and what he created was the world’s first software based Post Office Code Standardisation Advisory Group (POCSAG) code paging encoder, BASEPage.

Even when developed it was shunned by "experts" but the product has since been installed in more than 3,000 sites spanning 30 countries.

Commtech Wireless has expanded

to develop a number of electronic products that cover the medical, hospitality, and industrial sectors.

The company turned over $5 million last year with nearly $1 million worth of exports, figures that helped earn Commtech Wireless a place as one of Australia’s fastest growing companies. It was listed in the DeloitteTech fast 50 and ranked by BRW as one of the country’s fastest growing companies in Australia in its 2002 fast 100.

Commtech Wireless has enjoyed recent industry recognition winning the 2002 Industry and Export Award for Emerging Exporter and the 2002 CY O’Connor Award for Excellence in Engineering and Technology.

An improved version of the original BASEPage, the BASEPage2000, won the Best Telecoms Project at the West Australian Information Technology and Telecommunications Awards in 2001.

Mr Buzza’s entrepreneurial flair did not go unnoticed last year when he was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year.

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