Cloud system pioneers floating high a decade on

By Helen Twose

Jedd Forbes (left) and James Riddell were among the first winners of the Entrepreneurs' Challenge. Photo / Greg Bowker
Jedd Forbes (left) and James Riddell were among the first winners of the Entrepreneurs' Challenge. Photo / Greg Bowker

When James Riddell began marketing his innovative smart metering systems in 2002, real-time, cloud-based reporting was a hard sell.

Fast-forward a decade and the ubiquity and acceptance of cloud-computing has put Outpost Central's Riddell and his co-founder Jedd Forbes a step ahead of the competition in the water-meter and soil-moisture sensor market.

"We had a cloud model when we started over 10 years ago and that was a real struggle pushing that concept into businesses, but now it has flipped on its head and all the tenders are coming out expecting it to be cloud-based, so we're in a really good position," Riddell said.

Outpost Central's cornerstone product is a device which attaches to water meters, sending real-time information over the mobile phone network to a dedicated website.

It works directly with utilities and major water users, but also has a strategy to link with business partners or have the technology built into third-party devices.

The company has doubled its revenue in the past 12 months, signed up a new customer in South America and recently opened an office in Perth, Western Australia.

Outpost Central's business success got a boost in 2009 when it was among the first winners of the $1 million Auckland University Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge.

The challenge aims to kick-start the growth plans of companies seeking to expand, particularly overseas. "It came at a good time for us because we were trying to grow it without investment so cashflow is always a problem," Riddell said.

Outpost Central plans offices in the United States and Europe too.


Entrepreneurs' Challenge

• Open to companies seeking funds for growth or expansion.

• Businesses with a financial track record and a minimum turnover of $1 million will be preferred.

• Funding negotiated on a case-by-case basis, with up to $1m available on favourable terms.

• Entries open June 18, close 5pm July 5.

• Winners announced in October.

www.entrepreneurschallenge.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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