Flight of the Blackbird

Award–winning local IT company LeetGeek is now known as Blackbird, as the Adelaide company rebrands with a new image fitting of its work.

Founded in 2007 by Managing Director Richard Stafford, LeetGeek was initially set up as a T-shirt company before blazing a trail as one of the state’s best young IT companies. Director Ben Corbett joined in 2009 after moving to Adelaide from the UK and LeetGeek were the winners of the BDO Fast Movers in 2011 and took out CRN’s Fast 50 in 2012. So why change the name and rebrand? Corbett says there are two main reasons. “The main reason is a misconception about what we are capable of,” he says. “All of our growth to date has been referral-based and while that’s fantastic, you’re not in control of that discussion. It could be all positive but it might not be accurate. “The second thing is the geek name. We were just worried; you see these TV shows such as Beauty and the Geek, it [the word ‘geek’] just seemed to be more of a derogatory term. There might have been a period of geek chic,” he laughs, “but that’s long gone. And we thought, ‘You know what? It doesn’t suit us.’” The London-born entrepreneur says that Blackbird “didn’t really feel the [old] name reflected the sophistication of the work we do and perhaps pigeonholed us in an area that’s not related to us” and that the reaction to the name-change has been 95 percent positive, as “you’re not going to please everyone”. Despite the name change, Corbett says the core business of Blackbird is the same, as the company with an annual turnover of $7 million will continue to find tech solutions for existing clients such as Prince Alfred College, The Maras Group and Haircare Australia and work with vendors such as Apple, Microsoft and Aerohive. Corbett says that 99 percent of Blackbird’s customers are referred, a figure that is unique to working in Adelaide with our two degrees of separation, something that still blows the London-raised Corbett away to this day. “When I moved here I found it really difficult to get work,” he says. “No one wanted to speak to me. That’s fine. I had confidence in my own abilities to set up my own business. I had no idea how to set up a business and that it was going to take as long as it did. I thought, I’d just get some junior job just to get some money. I met Richard, he was advertising for a junior job, and we got on really well. I said to him, ‘I have to be honest here, I’ve come here and I’m setting up my own business and I need a job to contribute to the family. I really like the way you talk about how you want to run an IT business – let’s work together.’” Knowing that everyone knows everyone in Adelaide, Stafford and Corbett made sure they looked after their staff, because the staff look after the customers and the customers spread the word. “That was our whole strategy: people are your business. A) get the right ones in. B) make sure they enjoy working with you.” This worked, as the company doubled in size every year with LeetGeek moving into the education space to complement their work in the corporate sector. Corbett believes there is enough of a market in Adelaide to continue to grow Blackbird. “I think South Australia gets a tough reputation that there’s not much going on here. There really is. We’ve got some wonderful customers that might have their headquarters in Adelaide but they have a national presence, a couple even have a global presence. There are a lot of businesses and schools in South Australia. We’re members of Brand South Australia and The Engine Room and we love what they stand for. “Let’s stop persisting with this notion of a conservative [business] environment [in South Australia] because that almost encourages it to keep it happening. I migrated here from London. What I found here is such an amazing business community of people who are willing to help and look after each other, and that’s something to be proud of. What The Engine Room is doing is awesome, there should be more of that: promoting SA businesses and encouraging more local government to support this sort of stuff. There’s so much opportunity here.” blackbirdit.com.au This article is sponsored by   Bentleys_Master_REV 2.2 x 0.94

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