Tech firms among those in Singapore seeing fastest growth

Ms Janice Tan (centre), general manager of textile and garments trader Tantex, at a meeting with her staff. She attributes the company's success to the good partnership and alliances that it forms with manufacturing plants in South-east Asia.
Ms Janice Tan (centre), general manager of textile and garments trader Tantex, at a meeting with her staff. She attributes the company's success to the good partnership and alliances that it forms with manufacturing plants in South-east Asia.PHOTO: TANTEX

Cyber security company among 50 fastest-growing firms here; commerce and wholesale sector also thriving

The spate of high-profile security breaches at large companies and government agencies here and overseas has had a silver lining for local cyber security outfit Accel Systems and Technologies.

The firm has recorded a 300 per cent jump in revenue over the past year, said chief executive Tammie Tham.

The three-year-old company is seen as one of the 50 fastest-growing firms in Singapore, according to credit and business information service provider DP Information Group (DP Info).

Its FG50 list, released last month, identifies companies that have achieved a minimum of 10 per cent growth in turnover every year for the past three years while still remaining profitable.

While Ms Tham attributes her firm's fourth placing to the low base in the initial period of the survey from 2011 to 2013 - she notes that revenue has grown by a third and profits by three-fold in the 12 months to March 31 this year.

"Cyber security is the hottest topic now in the IT industry," she says.

Many companies are prepared to spend up to 8 to 10 per cent of their IT budget on cyber security, a far cry from the paltry 1 per cent when Ms Tham first started selling IT security products and services more than 10 years ago.

"We used to have to use fear tactics to 'scare' clients because no one really considers about protecting the business," she says.

"(Cyber) security was only an afterthought. But today, we have shareholders asking at boardrooms if the companies are spending enough to defend the data and information they possess."

Her biggest challenge now is finding enough skilled workers to sustain the exponential growth in her business. "The local talent pool is not growing fast enough to meet the demands," she says.

Another fast-growing local firm in the technology sector is DeClout, which has recently moved into the gaming merchandising and e-commerce space. The Catalist-listed company, founded in 2009, lifted revenue from $28.4 million in 2013 to $76.9 million last year.

Turnover for the first half of this year was at $121 million.

"We plan to list Procurri, one of our portfolio companies, by 2016 and eventually grow to be a $1 billion company in the next five years," said DeClout chief executive Vesmond Wong.

Mr Wong attributes the fast growth to the company's agility and its ability to spot disruptive trends ahead of the competition.

"Once we spot a trend, we create or invest in companies that have the potential to be market disruptors, and then incubate and scale them to become global or regional champions," he says.

Firms in the information and communications sector have the second largest representation on the FG50 list, with seven making the cut.

The still-thriving commerce and wholesale sector has the largest number, with 18.

Textile and garments trader Tantex, one of the 18, was ranked 29th.

General manager Janice Tan, who is a second-generation manager of the family business, attributes its success to the good partnership and alliances that it forms with manufacturing plants in South-east Asia.

"We provide technical support to some small and medium-sized plants to become approved sites to supply to large brands and retailers in Europe and the United States," says Ms Tan. She plans to continue growing the company by investing in technology as well as research and development.

Commodities trader Citus, which is on the FG50 list for the second time in a row, is also another thriving company in the commerce and wholesale category.

Director Joanna Cheng-Ajlani said that being a small firm of seven staff, including four company directors, has its advantages as it is able to "switch directions without having to manoeuvre through bureaucracy". She also thinks that the second-generation management who joined the firm seven years ago have brought about "fresh perspectives" that "created a big momentum for growth".

"Good reputation, in-depth knowledge of the business and solid relationships play a crucial role in the success of our company," she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2015, with the headline 'Tech firms among those in S'pore seeing fastest growth'. Print Edition | Subscribe