Here’s a story about an innovative guy who found the idea for developing his business purely by chance. He looked up at the multitude of buildings gracing the Sydney and North Sydney CBD and there before him was his potential customer base.
This story shows how entrepreneurs are driven to find ways to succeed, and sometimes that includes new and clever ways of marketing.
Former Olympian, Hugh Millikin, has spent more than 20 years creating a company that provides web-based business services, and there’s plenty of blue sky ahead.
Indigo Pacific has offices in Australia, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Hong Kong and Beijing and, among other things, exports ‘electronic forms’ to seven countries.
Canadian-born Millikin's customers include the big banks, financial institutions such as Perpetual and other organisations where the documentation for customers is important. So how did a new arrival collect so many blue-chip customers?
“Not long after I arrived in Sydney, I was standing at Kirribilli, by the harbour, wondering where I would find my future customers,” Millikin recalls. “And then I looked at the skyline and thought, if these companies own the skyline they must be the right place to start.
“I call it ‘skyline marketing' and I pretty well use that idea in every city I go to with Indigo Pacific.”
The business was inspired by the long-talked-about ‘paperless office’ and the arrival of the internet provided a big lift to the fledgling operation. “While it has been a fantastic boost to my business, I must admit that I didn't see it at first,” says Millikin. “It wasn’t a big bang because banks were initially reluctant to open up their networks to the general community.”
The big appeal of the internet is that broadband and other innovations made it possible for documents to be handled online. “The internet means more information can be captured to make filling out electronic forms all that much easier,” says Millikin.
He says his company was perfectly placed to partner government departments and companies determined to save millions of dollars by reducing the need for paper forms.
“And I believe there are more and more customers who are time-poor and don’t want to go downtown to pick up forms,” he says.
“I call it citizen self-service. It means if someone wants a fishing licence, he wouldn't have to go to the government department, it just could happen online.”
As a newcomer, Millikin may have skated on thin ice at times, but ice holds no fears for the former skipper of Australia's curling team. “Indigo Pacific started off as an Australian company, then some years later we were bought by Jet Form in Canada, but five years later I bought it back,” says Millikin proudly. “We are an Australian company and our biggest growth nowadays is in the US and China,” he says.