Young IT company reports sharply higher sales
Information technology company Hairy Lemon says it will increase its staff numbers by more than 30 per cent in the year ahead as it works to keep pace with demand for iPad and iPhone applications.
Co-founder Graham Dockrill says the company has had "probably one of the best years on record" since it started in 2000, with sales up 35 per cent domestically and 100 per cent internationally compared with the previous financial year.
Mr Dockrill said the company should achieve about $3 million in sales by the end of this financial year in March.
Hairy Lemon had secured a lot of work in the past two months, he said.
Much of that work is around iPhone and iPad applications. Although the company's core business is still web development, mobile devices and the iPad were changing the way people experience the web, Mr Dockrill said.
"I don't think New Zealand companies fully appreciate the momentum it's got in the United States. It's a freight train."
The secret of the iPad's appeal lay in its ease of use. And the iPad's popularity meant websites had to be adapted to work effectively on an iPad – and there was a lot of work to do there, he said.
"You've got to make websites friendly for fingers.'
"My father, who's 78, can use this [iPad] whereas he might struggle with a laptop."
Hairy Lemon has had a lot of requests for such work from American companies, and the IT company applied what it learned from those projects to local companies.
This aspect of the business was extremely busy.
"It's going gangbusters actually," Mr Dockrill said.
The surge of work had led the company of just under 30 employees to plan for "significant job growth". It will hire up to 13 new staff members in the year ahead.
The past year had been "very positive" as Hairy Lemon had focused on innovation, quality processes and systems and had picked up new key accounts and clients, Mr Dockrill said.
One of the innovations the company has adopted is the electronic Yike Bike, a 10.8kg rechargeable electric bike that can be folded up and carried.
It was designed by Christchurch's Grant Ryan.
The IT company has bought two customised Hairy Lemon-branded Yike Bikes which staff will be required to use when visiting clients in Christchurch.
The bikes can reach 25kmh and Mr Dockrill said he invested in the $5500 bikes as Hairy Lemon wanted to support innovation.
After the September 4 earthquake, the purchase made even more sense because driving around the city centre and finding parking became more difficult, he said.
He and co-founder Sue Wilkinson were passionate about supporting New Zealand companies and showcasing their innovations. "So I can rock up on a Yike Bike, show we're a cool, innovative company and showcase New Zealand technology as well. Clients think it [the bike] is great," he said.
On January 18 Hairy Lemon staff members will sit their Yike Bike licence driving test, after which they will be seen zipping around the city on the bikes.
- © Fairfax NZ News