Inspired by Mark Shuttleworth and theenormous dot.com success that took the world by storm, Zulfiq Isaacs was not toknow in 2001 that he was entering the IT market at the tail-end of the boom,just prior to the now-legendary dot.bomb crash. “I was so starry-eyed at thetime, thinking about the overnight success I might attain, but it was justbefore the markets collapsed,” he recalls. The 22-year-old left his job atDimension Data and opened Liquid Thought with a vision of providing a top-endportfolio of IT services to the SMB market.
In spite of the difficult market conditionsinto which he entered, Liquid Thought was one of the few companies thatwithstood the crash, “It was tough early on but I was fortunate enough to beone of the first companies in the Bandwidth Barn incubator and this made amassive difference, insulating us to a certain extent from the dot.bomb,” hesays. In addition, a mentor introduced the company to some important contactswho lead it to its first clients. But, Isaacs says, the first real catalystfor success was becoming a Microsoft partner. “In the beginning we were allover the place. We were a web-company but we were also looking at open-sourcetechnologies. Slowly and surely we realised that to achieve commercial success,we needed to align ourselves with a company like Microsoft,” he says. The movewas important and lent a more structured approach to the business.
Another success milestone came in 2004 withthe establishment of a Business Solutions division, the core focus of which isMicrosoft’s CRM offering. The division is headed up by Isaac’s partner, RogerStrain, an ex-Microsoft Corporate Account Manager with a wealth of experiencein the implementation, sales and marketing of business solutions tomedium-sized enterprises and corporates. “This allowed us to penetrate marketsin the professional and financial services industries. KPMG, Stanlib,Metropolitan and Alexander Forbes are just some of the clients we provide CRMsolutions for.” Over time the business grew to employ 40people (although it has since sold off a non-core division to a listed companyand reduced its staff complement to around 25). Its services include designsolutions, business CRM and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), informationworker solutions, the development of mobile Pocket PC solutions, softwareservices and products and consulting.
“I think where we’ve innovated the most isalways being early adopters of web-based technologies, even before theMicrosoft technologies started to evolve into the new platforms that everyonecurrently uses. The company’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of cuttingedge technology continues to give it a competitive edge, and Isaacs and histeam have long-identified the opportunities inherent in what is a rapidlyconverging IT environment. “We’ve been quite pioneering in the area of digitaltelevision and are gearing up to become a key player in this space in the nearfuture. We have positioned ourselves as a service provider to enable the IPTVenvironment in South Africa,” he says.“When asked what it takes to make it in IT,I always tell people: ‘Have a plan and stick to it but if things don’t work outas you anticipated, be ready to embrace change and be highly adaptable,’ Isaacsconcludes. It’s a formula that he’s proved can work. Contact: +27 861 386 583;www.liquidthought.co.za