Fast growing IT companies win awards

  • 2001-11-29
  • TBT staff
RIGA - This month in ceremonies across the Baltic states, Deloitte & Touche presented its Fast 50 and Fast 500 awards to the fastest growing technology companies.

In Central Europe, the Fast 50 program is in its second year.

Participating countries in Central Europe were the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia.

From the Baltics, the Estonian recruitment company CV-Online, led by pioneering U.S-based entrepreneur Esther Dyson, ranked seventh.

CV-Online has increased its revenues over the past three years by 824 percent.

The highest ranked Latvian company was Lursoft, which came in 20th, with a growth rate of 261 percent. The highest ranked Lithuanian company was Elinta, which tied for 50th place and had a growth rate of 64 percent.

"The rapid development of companies in the Baltic states is comparable to other countries in the survey," said Normunds Stanevichs, an associate at the Latvian office of Deloitte & Touche.

For the second year in a row Hungarian companies won first place in the competition.

This year, Deloitte & Touche Central Europe and First Tuesday cooperated to make 10,000 firms aware of the Fast 50 program. This six-month process involved contacting companies, encouraging them to participate, performing data analysis and conducting follow-up interviews.

Facing challenges

A survey of the participants provided some interesting insights into Central Europe's business environment. The main trend is that most fast-growth companies in Central Europe have small asset bases, suggesting that their knowledge base is more important than their asset base. The majority have an asset base of less than $1 million.

Such companies are typically small and in their start-up phase. Investing in people and know-how rather than fixed assets is the key to survival.

The survey also found that two-thirds of the firms plan to seek outside funding over the next three years, either in the form of equity or debt, or both.

Another finding is that inadequate financial instruments are constraining Central Europe's high technology sector.

Last year a number of respondents said that market share was their primary challenge, followed by sales and marketing. This year, however, market share dropped from the radar screen. Marketing channels and product development were of crucial importance to Central Europe's technology leaders.

Access to skilled workers also constrains the IT sector. The need for a skilled work force in a sector where developed countries offer much more lucrative remuneration makes finding and keeping good employees difficult.

And the winner is...

Latvia's top performer this year - Lursoft - has been in business for nine years providing a linked database of sources including state registers, non-governmental organizations, courts and 28 newspapers.

It has provided official information on enterprises since 1995. In 1999, it began offering WAP service before it was available from the country's mobile phone providers. Lursoft also offers SMS-based information.

"Our main challenge is how to manage all our information," explained Lursoft's Ainars Bruvelis.