Michael Pascoe and his two co-founders wanted their systems integrator to be exceptional so everything about the brand had to reflect that motif right down to the name, Olikka, which means “different” in Swedish. Only, even in Swedish, the word has just one ‘k’.
The need to look for different approaches is a common theme reflected in the CRN Fast50 this year and was responsible for Olikka’s nearly two-thirds growth.
“When we were picking the name and the branding we didn’t want Datatech, Syscom etcetera; we wanted something that stood by itself,” Pascoe says of the business he started with fellow DiData alumni Michael Gansel and Ross Gangemi.
“Those are ’90s names and reflect ’90s IT – and we were born in the cloud era, web 2.0 and SaaS.”
Olikka’s growth kicked in as it levered its way from remote desktops into the data centre, he says. It helped the provider break through the $2 million threshold in the financial year.
“A goal was to take system management competencies from the desktop and apply that to the server. And the branding was supporting Microsoft’s key message around private cloud.”
Early wins were from word of mouth, fuelled by the trio’s nerdish passion for technology that resonated with customers, Pascoe says. But he hopes to drive a step change in Olikka’s fortunes by hiring dedicated sales staff.
“If we speak in real terms that people understand and they see we’re competent – in fact, experts – they do the due diligence and then try us out on the project.”
Pascoe attributes Olikka’s success to rapport between co-founders and their complementary skills.
“As we founded Olikka and moved into management, that relationship has continued and we ‘get’ each other and know it’s OK to admit I’m not the best person to work on that or call out to someone, ‘Don’t you work on that, give it to this individual’.”
It’s evidence of the difficulty in finding a credible reseller that despite a plan not to move outside Melbourne, customers are drawing them into new geographies. Olikka will soon open a Sydney office.
“We took the phone calls and listened to what they wanted and thought about how to help them. We’ve delivered projects with most of the solution in Melbourne and just the right amount of physical presence as required” by flying to the customer sites.
Another aspect that has changed from inception is their vendor strategy.
“When we started, we had a very heavy focus on Microsoft and Citrix so we could be true experts in that field. [But] a lot of our customers are running VMware so we build [remote desktops] on VMware if that’s what the customer has. For some customers, the time isn’t right to change their hypervisor.”
Pascoe says the proudest moment in the past year was when Olikka edged out the systems integrator for the Lend Lease office in Atlanta, Georgia on the back of a customer referral. Olikka is now doing work for the parent company back on its home soil in Australia, he says.
Closer to home, Olikka has built a strong relationship with Wyndham City Council in the outer southwest suburbs of Melbourne on the way to the industrial centre of Geelong.
“Wyndham is a great example of an ongoing trusted adviser extension of their team work.
“That comes down to the three founders: we’re consultants. We weren’t salespeople and we didn’t have that philosophy of sell it and then work out how to do it,” says Pascoe.
Michael Pascoe (co-founders: Michael Gansel, Ross Gangemi)
Construction, engineering, local government and enterprise
Systems integration and trusted advisory services for remote desktops, VDI and data centre management
Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, Veeam, Nimble Storage, Atlantis Computing