Meet LAB3 - No. 1 in the 2019 CRN Fast50

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This article appeared in the November/December 2019 issue of CRN magazine.

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Meet LAB3 - No. 1 in the 2019 CRN Fast50

When Chris Cook and his fellow directors launched LAB3 in 2017, their mission was to be an agile technology services company that supplied to big businesses and would not compromise on quality.

LAB3 has four core competencies: DevOps, cloud, modern workplace and managed services. It also recently spun out a new division called LAB3 Connect, a networking business focused on SD-WAN in partnership with Cisco. The company also recently established LAB3 Lumen, an innovation division focused on advanced workloads around AI, IoT, data and robotics.

LAB3 came to be out of a desire to create a cloud technology services company that could reinvent itself quickly and work with the kind of agility that global SI’s sometimes find challenging to pull off. The LAB3 executive team shares many collective years of experience working for IBM, and Cook himself boasts a 15-year career spanning work with Big Blue, Telstra and Dimension Data.

“One of the things that gave me the thought to setup LAB3 was that, particularly in the managed services and outsourcing arena, the big players have been too heavily focused on running global delivery centres offshore,” Cook, now LAB3’s chief executive, told CRN.

“While that hits a cost or a price point, the quality isn’t there, and it becomes quite challenging to manage offshore teams versus where the local account team is.”

Seeing that a lot of work sent offshore dealt with backend processing and repetitive work around infrastructure deployment, Cook believed there was a better way to get it done, namely through intelligent automation and orchestration. One of LAB3’s key partners for this is Hashicorp for its Terraform product, an open-source infrastructure-as-code solution for data centre infrastructure provisioning.

“We’ve gone down a data-driven orchestration model, which allows us to key hundreds of inputs into our automation blueprints to spin workloads that are tailored for a client,” Cook said. “That’s from setting up your guardrails and foundations in platforms like Azure, to migrating workloads across, to spinning up new workloads in a fast, efficient and predictable way.

Cook said delivering those services with local resources allowed the company to ensure quality, predictable outcomes that had set prices, making LAB3 “very efficient and very competitive”.
That competitive edge has led LAB3 to huge success in the 2019 financial year, boasting growth of 393 percent on revenue of almost $12 million.

Key contributors to LAB3’s growth included projects in mining and construction.
LAB3 also reports that its growth was underpinned by its strategic partnership with Microsoft, with the software giant helping LAB3 with go-to-market propositions and introducing new clients.

Cisco has also been a core partner for LAB3’s networks division, where SD-WAN projects have been a good source of revenue.

Naturally, LAB3 doesn’t attribute its success to technology alone.

“Technology is on a point of shift at the moment with cloud, SaaS and PaaS offerings. Everyone is on a journey to get there, to be agile, to be able to fail fast and get products to market with speed and accuracy. So there’s a lot of hype and a lot of market out there, but I think the one thing that’s really made us successful is the team,” Cook said.

“If I start at the leadership team, each of the individuals whether it’s our head of operations or client engagements or chief engineer, they’ve all been hand-picked. They literally are some of the best in the industry in Australia. Highly experienced, young, motivated and driven. And by and large the team has worked together in previous lives.

“We know our pitfalls, we know our strengths and we’ve been able to build a team that accommodates that and puts us in good stead to go and challenge the market quite aggressively. I’d also say our engineers are some of the best in the country. We pay well above market rates and we hand-pick our people.”

Cook says expertise, collective experience and being bold are key to aggressively going after the enterprise market as a new entity.

“Our motto is, ‘Fear less, achieve more’ and when we generated that motto, we knew we had the credentials, experiences and partners like Microsoft and Hashicorp backing us to go and do game-changing things.”

FACT FILE
Founded: 2017
Key executives: Chris Cook (CEO), Bob Cook (CFO), Andy Lyons (CTO)
HQ: Melbourne
Growth: 393.80%
Revenue: $11.94m

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