Our four-year growth algorithm really sorts the wheat from the chaff in the IT and telecoms sector. Businesses come and go in this fast-paced environment and even the cleverest widgets and smartest programmes are redundant in moments. But these whizzkid firms are more than technology geeks; they’re using smart business models to stay in the game. Take Mark Thomas. He recession-proofed his networking equipment supplier, Switchshop (75th), by picking a reliable and consistent customer base, mostly from the public sector: “It’s a difficult market to break into but, if you know the people, they tend to be quite loyal,” he says. Another sharp operator is Epsilon Telecommunications (63rd). Andreas Hipp set up this wholesale telecoms business in the wake of the 1991 recession. “We could buy equipment from administrators at ten per cent of the original value,” he says. Glasgow-headquartered NCS Group (15th) has used a different strategy to buck the downturn: the outsourced IT firm has a very healthy £7m in the bank for a rainy day. Good news for the company’s impressive list of business partners such as Microsoft and Toshiba – and its 200 odd staff. People are the lifeblood of any company, even IT support firm Wavex (51st), which prides itself on cutting its clients’ staff costs. Its own employee numbers exploded from 58 to 85 after the acquisition of a competitor in 2006. MD Peter Sweetbaum is optimistic about the future: “Next year’s figures are a moveable feast but we are still a profitable, cash-generative business.” Elite Telecom (5th) has seen meteroric growth through acquisition. The Merseyside-based business bought GP Telecom for £3m in 2008, boosting turnover to £6.8m. Six-year-old Elite Telecom is one of the youngest companies in this year’s Hot 100, but the fastest in its category. In contrast, Bracknell-based TCC Group (91st) is an old timer by technology standards. Founded in 1994, the firm recently launched an outsourced IT arm to foster future growth. London-based software firm Limehouse Software (26th) has seen respectable growth through targeting new customers in the States. CEO Giles Welch still keeps a keen eye on contracts at home: lucrative deals with the likes of Anglian Water have pushed revenues up to £4.1m. Samitel (93rd) has always been a global player. The London-based firm sells voice and data services to more than 120 providers worldwide. Sometimes your biggest growth driver can seem counter-intuitive. ITRS Group (82nd) sells IT systems to financial services firms. Far from being devastated by the strife in the market, founder Stephen Bates says: “We’ve just had a record year!”
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