Big dreams for computing entrepreneur

David Brebner founded Unlimited Realties in 1996 while still doing his technology degree in computing systems engineering at Massey University.

He needed a company to get around intellectual property restrictions imposed by the university and just kept it going once he graduated. There was never any thought of working for someone else.

In the past four years the company has focused on building applications sold through OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers).

When computer giant Dell launched the first multi-touch PC in 2008, the Dell Studio One 19, it included a number of Fingertapps applications and a custom app launcher designed by Unlimited Realities. And that multi-touch software was available two years before Apple launched the iPhone. 

It initially worked on the multi-touch software for Dell with fellow Kiwi company Next Window.

More recently, Unlimited Realities has sealed a deal with chipmaker AMD for its Fintertapps software to be made available to many other computer producers. It has been used on Windows tablets and will now also go onto Android tablets.

Ranked on the 2011 TIN200 list of the country's largest technology companies, Unlimited Realities was said to have then been making revenue of $3.8 million but it didn't feature this year. It has 18 staff and a satellite office in Wellington.

Dear to Brebner's heart is making computers available for everyone. The company's story-telling software platform Umajin (pronounced 'you imagine') has allowed students to create multi-page digital documents and download a range of media using only the one platform.  

Now, helped along with some government funding, the company is working on expanding that platform for family use and eventually to allow other people to build applications on it. 

Why did you become an entrepreneur?

I'm not sure I realised there was a choice. I did my first software contract very young. I was under 12 when I built a system for a local restaurant so it would be able to make a table printout [for orders] for the kitchen. It was in Feilding of all places. I did a bit of contracting work and started my company while at university. I hired my first staff member after graduating - my brother Russell, and it just grew from there.

What have been the biggest obstacles in running your own company?

It is a very complicated and fast-moving landscape we play in and you can't rely on one thing from six months to another. Companies succeed or fail from innovative product launches and the product launches keep coming faster and faster. We aim to be on as many platforms as possible to be successful and that's exciting.

Name one thing you've learnt while in business?

I've learnt an awful lot about working with a team, getting to know about people, what their ambitions are and helping them get more out of the work they do. I've also learnt about working with customers and delivering something more than they anticipate.

What are your business and personal goals?

I really want to change the way people use computers. 

Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs?

Focus on the things that you do that's different from what else is out there. In my field that's difficult to find but if you find that space, it is the best way to get noticed.