Despite founding his telco business amid tumultuous economic conditions, HIP Communications director Ruben Alker says ‘the timing was better than ever’.
Frustrated with the lack of service values within large companies, Alker moved from his regional general manager role with Telstra straight into the COO position with ill-fated Varsity Lakes telco Silver Telecom.
“Silver Telecom was my foray back into small business but unfortunately it went into liquidation in 2008,” says Alker.
“Two and a half years ago, 23 of us got made redundant on the same day in Varsity Lakes and I thought ‘well there is no better time’, so I started up HIP.
“I’m passionate about business on the Gold Coast and the telco industry, and I don’t think we have enough of it.”
Launched using $50,000 of personal savings in August 2008, HIP Communications has partnered with brands including Cisco and Vodaphone and is now on track to triple its revenues for FY11.
“We’re really focusing on an integrated approach for businesses – a one-stop-shop for all your needs and making sure everything is working together,” says Alker.
“Our catchphrase is ‘making technology work’ – it’s about educating businesses to make sure they’re getting the most out of their investment in technology. We need to be at the forefront of what’s new and great and we need to be focused on making sure that our customers are getting the benefits.”
Ongoing challenges for HIP Communications include gaining access to cutting edge technology with limited capital backing and convincing companies to invest in new products. But Alker remains confident that a renewed sense of business confidence and a desire to reinvest in business infrastructure is driving demand for new phone systems.
Going from a senior Telstra executive role to SME owner brings about a culture shock and Alker admits he’s learnt some ‘tough lessons’ over the last two years.
“Coming from Telstra where I had two PAs, a finance manager, HR manager and business operations manager – I had this massive support base around me and went from that to not having anybody,” he says.
“I made decisions in my first year that were probably pretty stupid, but I’ve learned that you just can’t do all these things by yourself.
“It’s been the toughest two years of my life as far as stress and pressure. Running 1200 staff at Telstra is a breeze to what I’m doing now.
“But I wouldn’t change it. The lessons I’ve learnt over the last two years, I just can’t see how I could have learnt them in any other environment.”
Business Est: 2008
Number of staff: 4
Growth: 200 per cent
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