16/01/2008 - 22:00

ThinkSmart a quiet WA success story

16/01/2008 - 22:00

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Technology companies typically emerge from universities and other research institutions, but one WA success story that evolved away from the limelight was ThinkSmart.

Technology companies typically emerge from universities and other research institutions, but one WA success story that evolved away from the limelight was ThinkSmart.

Formed by current chief executive Ned Montarello in 1996, ThinkSmart is building a successful and profitable international business.

Its current success contrasts with the challenges facing Advanced Nanotechnology, a company that was spun-out of the University of Western Australia on the back of groundbreaking nanotechnology research.

ThinkSmart and Advanced Nano both raised private equity to fund their initial development, and have since listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Former Macquarie Bank executive David Griffiths, who serves as chairman of Advanced Nano and a director of ThinkSmart, attributed the latter company’s success to Mr Montarello’s clear understanding of its market.

“ThinkSmart was really driven by Ned Monterello, a committed guy who knew his product,” Mr Griffiths said.

“Advanced Nano came out of the universities and researchers.

It’s taken a long time to digest what it means to service a customer.

“It’s very easy to identify the customers but finding out what they want is very complex.

“It’s that complexity that is a learning curve for Advanced Nano.

It’s not the science now, it’s engaging the customers which is the key factor.” ThinkSmart has become an international market leader in a little-known niche: the provision of business-to-business IT financing for transactions between $500 and $10,000.

Its core competency is the processing of high volumes of B2B finance transactions via its proprietary technology.

After establishing a strong presence in the Australian market it has expanded to the European and North American markets.

Its growth has come from partnerships with computer retailers, which offer the service to their customers, and banks, which provide the funding for its service.

The company completed one of the largest public share offers last year, raising $85 million to help fund its growth and enable Mr Montarello and other investors to realise some of their gains.

Its prospectus projected sales in the 2007 financial year of $35.9 million and an inaugural net profit of $4.3 million.

In 2008 it anticipates revenue will increase to $45.6 million, net profit will jump to $10.7 million, and the company will pay its inaugural dividends.

Advanced Nano completed a much smaller, $9 million, initial public offering in 2005 but has battled to gain traction in either the investor or product markets.

Its innovative technology has been applied in a range of markets, including sunscreens, paints and petroleum products, with mixed success.

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