What started out as a project among university friends to build an artificial intelligence-based internet browser has become Australia's largest wholesale next-generation cloud provider.
OrionVM, a small tech company that started almost five years ago within the walls of UTS Housing now counts computing pioneer and "father of the minicomputer" Gordon Bell as an investor. The average age of the three founders at the time of starting OrionVM was just 18 and a half years old.
It was a return to familiar territory recently when OrionVM was recognised for its contribution to cutting-edge technology innovation in Australia with the NSW Merit Award and National Finalist status at the 2014 NSW State iAwards held at UTS.
"What we do now is cloud-enable people," said OrionVM CEO, cofounder and UTS Bachelor of Business, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology graduate, Sheng Yeo. "We give companies a cloud solution, which they can brand and take to market, rather than investing a couple million to build their own."
At the start the founders spent 18 months sleeping under their desks in their tiny self-hired city office while living off $5 pizza. The company become profitable within a mere six months and now includes Australia's third largest telecommunications infrastructure provider, AAPT Limited, as part of its clientele.
Fuelled by strong demand for its market-leading wholesale cloud platform, OrionVM achieved a record year in 2013, with a 20-fold increase of customers, including D-Link, Vodafone and the NSW Government, and launched key technology partnerships with Cumulus NetworksTM and Mellanox. It also announced a US expansion earlier this year with a new headquarters office in San Francisco.
The iAwards recognition was in the Tools and Infrastructure Category, crediting those Australian companies which have created stable and efficient infrastructure for all sectors of business, industry and personal life.
"This recognition validates the impact of disruptive technologies like OrionVM's cloud offering that is helping companies to remain competitive, increase efficiency, and generate new business," Yeo said. "We are proud of our company's Australian roots and appreciate the efforts of the iAwards organisation to highlight the cutting-edge achievements that Australia is offering to the world."
Yeo, who now includes five UTS graduates as part of his team, has come a long way since his days juggling full-time studies with full-time work as well as full-time innovation.
"The thing is we are innovating on technology not the business model. Wholesale is tried and tested around the world and infrastructure is what everyone knows. Provided the technology works, service is what everyone needs," said Yeo.
Yeo hopes the future will see OrionVM present in each key region globally in terms of infrastructure. "We're looking for key partners to connect with globally and then we will probably become a public company," he said. Until then, Yeo hopes to grow the Australian office in anticipation of moving people to the US.