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The sixth participant is Smartpath

Smartpath is a software vendor and expert in the asset management industry.
Founded in April 2004, based out of Sydney and Melbourne, it began as a services-focused business, now primary focus has become the development and delivery of the core product suite, Loc8 Asset and Help Desk Manager. These suites are offered as Software-as-a-Service model(SaaS) and (perpetual) customer-installed applications. The product suite includes a comprehensive Asset Management suite and PDA-based auditing application.

David Hodges and Owen Batt are the founders. David was working in the IT Service management field managing teams of Cisco-based infrastructure engineers and identified an opportunity in the asset auditing and data collection space. In 2004 David hired Owen, who had come from an architecture background and taught himself Flash and PHP development, to create a laptop-based auditing tool. Development of the first tool took 12 months and resulted in a Flash-based data collection tool with integrated mapping and image integration. Owen and David joined forces as joint directors of Smartpath in July 2004.

David describes the offering of Smartpath :
If we breakdown the products and services into three groups:
  • Asset Management.Loc8 software (perpetual), Loc8 installation and consulting services and asset auditing services
  • Loc8 SaaS - The provision of our Loc8 application suite as a managed service
  • Software Asset Management (SAM) - The provision of software asset management services.
Let us explore a bit further how David and Samrtpath are going:

Q. How long it took before it was up and running?
A. The business was planned for approximately 12 months prior to establishment. We began life as a services business providing consulting, software development and asset auditing services.

Q. What stage of your start-up is, stealth mode, beta mode or fully functional?
A. Our product Loc8 is now fully functional with a clear roadmap for future development. Our application suite will be released publicly on distributable CD in April 2008.

Q. What is the main objective/mission behind your venture?
A. Smartpath's mission is to become recognised as an industry leader in the asset management, maintenance management and help desk markets through the delivery of feature-rich, affordable, easy-to-use and deploy Web 2.0 applications.

Q. What is unique about your venture?
A. Smartpath has targeted the greater portion of the market with its Loc8 Asset Management and Help-Desk solution. Traditionally, the asset management software market has been characterised by a few, large, global corporations that sell high-end, high-value solutions affordable by only the largest corporations. These solutions are very large and cumbersome to deploy and labor-intensive to implement and maintain. Smartpath’s approach is to offer a feature-rich application at a fraction of the cost of existing systems thereby making asset management accessible to all businesses.

Q. What market segment verticals you are targeting?
A. Our Loc8 product can be quickly configured to track assets and manage help desks in any industry. We have been successful in the following markets and target them specifically:
  • Health Industry. This includes public and private hospitals, nursing and aged care facilities, area and state health services
  • Education Market
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining and Industrial
  • Retail
  • Software Vendors - SAM
We position our three product offerings (Loc8 perpetual, Loc8 SaaS, Asset/SAM services) to market segments individually.

Q. What type of customers you are targeting?
A. We target customers who typically manage and/or track their assets using spreadsheets and typically have as few as 200 or 2 million assets. However, Smartpath’s focus tends to be on organisations that have up to 2000 employees.

Q. How many users are using your services?
A. We have approximately 50 customers. We have completed more than 70 projects in the last 3 years and have approximately 100 active users using Loc8.

Q. What sort of marketing you are using to spread the word?
A. Google Adwords, Yahoo Sponsored Links. We have a PR consultant who works with us monthly. We complete direct marketing campaigns 3 - 4 times each year.
We advertise in industry publications such as the Rust Report, and Australian Innovation and are members of the Institute of Asset Managers UK, which provides educational and networking opportunities such as participation at seminars and workshops, etc.

Q. How are you measuring the success of your venture? Are there any special mechanisms/tools in place to monitor the progress?
A. Success is measured by the increase in revenues and units sold per year.

Q. Which are the main competitors or major players in this market segment? What are the main technologies used behind this start-up?
A. Our competitors are generally focused on one of the following areas:
  • asset and audit management software
  • maintenance management software
  • help desk software
We compete with companies like Pinnacle Software, Hardcat Asset Management, etc

Loc8 is developed using a Java logic layer and Flex/AIR front end. We use a range of databases for data storage. The technology Smartpath utilises in the development of its Loc8 product provides both a technological and competitive advantage. The company constantly scours available and emerging technologies to maintain its advantages.

Q. Are you using a lot of open-source tool sets for this?
A. Our databases are open source (with licence components where distributed) most other tool sets are based on the Adobe framework. The packaged operating system is also open source.

Q. What is your operating environment (operating system) and what type of database you are using?
A. Loc8 is installed as a Virtual Appliance using Ubuntu JeOS (Just enough Operating System) wrapped in a VMware package. Loc8 Supports Windows OS between and including Windows 95 and Vista workstation and server versions, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris and HP-UX

Q. How often do you catch up with others trying similar things and where do you catch up. Do you have dedicated communities in your city?
A. Our development team is involved with the Flex development community in Melbourne.

Q. How much money is needed upfront to start a venture?
A. In retrospect more than we had :) I think it depends on the product offering, market positioning and growth strategy.

Q. What are the main barriers in general for people to start their venture in Australia?
A. The biggest barrier to entry for start-ups in Australia is the attitude of the Banking and finance industry. Australia’s investment community is generally risk-averse and consequently, mostly unwilling to invest in new ventures. In IT, where the market is international, another potential barrier is the acceptance of products (around the world) developed in Australia. Australia is not known as an innovator and source of leading software – relative to the UK and USA.

Q. What are your thoughts on the future trends of your service and the market segment you are in?
A. We believe the segments and customers we target will continue to require asset management systems and services. This is because of the increasing incidence of various government, regulatory and corporate governance standards which now impact on the need to have a robust asset management system in place.

Q. Do you have any advice for people who want to start their venture?
  • Follow your instincts
  • Believe in yourself
  • Be passionate about your products, services and business
  • Surround yourself with people who do things differently and better than you
  • Develop a culture that promotes excitement
  • Research the market, know the customers, develop strategies implement decisively and measure results.
Thanks, David for sharing your thoughts. Some of the points you have raised about innovation and the IT industry are quite relevant. We are delighted to cover Smartpath and we look forward to hearing from you on the progress of Smart Path. All the best.


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