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Just the ticket for retail

PERTH’s Ben Hoffman was propelled from a former fruit and veg store manager to an inter-national high-tech visionary last week when a local syndicate poured almost $2 million into his Subiaco company, SignIQ.

The injection of cash was made after a US company specialising in retail software support signed for international marketing rights for Ben’s homegrown program.

It isn’t a bad achievement for the 30-year-old computer software creator who 10 years ago set out to produce a computer program to help his dad write pricing tickets for his Bull Creek fruit and veg shop.

“I said at school I would never have anything to do with computers,” says the quietly spoken software developer this week as he tried to come to terms with becoming part of the international e-commerce league.

The program he created enables retailers to produce inexpensive, creative, professional and comprehensive in-store advertising.

There are now 850 retail stores in Australia using his software including major retailers such as Amcal Chemists, Retravision, David Jones, Porters Liquor, and Australia Post.

His inspiration for the software program came 10 years ago when he was manager of the fruit and vegetable section of the Como SupaValu supermarket.

He had taken a course in graphic art and, learning from his father, understood how important ticket-ing and in-store advertising was.

Watching his father struggle to produce uniform and creative signage and experiencing the same problems in his supermarket sent him scurrying to the technology he vowed he would never touch.

“I had to teach myself how to write a computer program before I could develop the software pro-gram,” he said.

“I didn’t realise how difficult and how time consuming it would be. In fact, if I had I probably wouldn’t have taken it on.

“It took me two years to get the first version of the software right, and four years before I was selling enough to make a living.”

The approach by the US-based SV1 Retail, the seventh largest retail software company in the USA, for the international marketing rights turned his fortunes around.

A WA syndicate provided a $2 million injection last week to support the expansion of this Subiaco company on to the world stage but also ensures it stays WA-owned and that it retains the vital and valuable intellectual property.

With a management and market-ing team now supporting him, Ben has become the creative technical director and says he will be now able to concentrate on taking his software package to the next level – multi-media.

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