Posted on Wednesday 20 January 2010 by Ulster Business

Nik Stirk

Nic Stirk - SLA Mobile

Leaders in Business - The mobile communications sector is one of the fastest-growing in the global economy and Nic Stirk, as CEO of SLA Mobile, is making sure Northern Ireland is well represented at the top. He tells Ulster Business about his secrets of success in one of the most competitive market places.

The best things don’t just come to those who wait, as Nic Stirk, CEO of one of Europe’s Top 30 fastest-growing technology companies will tell you. Having founded Belfast-based SLA Mobile in 2003 with fellow entrepreneur Owen Lamont, his proactive innovation and export-focused strategy has delivered rapid overseas expansion and a string of international deals with some of the biggest players in the mobile sector. Although 2009 was the most successful year in SLA Mobile’s short history, Nic says 2010 could well be its most important yet. Located in the shadow of Northern Ireland’s historic industrial power-house in Titanic Quarter, the company’s meteoric rise is living proof that a vibrant indigenous and entrepreneur-led ICT sector is key to unlocking the potential of a focused innovation-led economy. Employing more than 80 staff, the self-funded organisation provides highly-innovative technology solutions and software integration that enables global mobile phone operators to claim a greater share of the market by capitalising on new revenue streams and meeting consumer demands for rich media content, such as live and on-demand video services. After racking up a growth rate of more than 4,000% in the last five years, SLA Mobile’s innovative enterprise has been successful in beating larger competitors to win a raft of lucrative contracts with global mobile giants including Vodafone, Fox Mobile Distribution and Volubill. In addition to establishing ‘right fit’ partnerships which enable the firm to explore new sectors, Nic Stirk says strong relationships built on an in-depth understanding of its customers’ culture and DNA lies at the core of the SLA Mobile’s success. “The mobile industry is evolving fast and ‘time to market’ is a major factor for our clients. That’s why we invest more time than our competitors in creating an understanding of each of our customers’ unique needs while ensuring our services are ready to adapt quickly to changes in the marketplace. Our customers know this, which is one of the reasons why we can compete on the same footing as some of the biggest global systems integrators and technology companies and advance our value added services offering in the mobile data and internet spaces. A lot of our success can be attributed to our ability to help customers deal with rapid change in a positive, strategic manner.” With more than 25 years’ experience in senior positions within some of the UK and Ireland’s largest telecommunications firms, including Esat and NTL, Stirk is recognised as a driving force in the mobile sector and advocate of innovation and entrepreneurship as a council member in the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. The company’s success and achievements to date have been noted. Earlier this year, SLA Mobile followed Google and eBay on to a list of the world’s top ICT companies clinching a coveted ‘Red Herring’ award in Berlin, Germany. Named after the media company, Red Herring, the annual awards are seen as an indicator of the companies with the know-how to help transform our daily lives. After clinching third place on the leader board of Ireland’s fastest growing technology companies, compiled by Deloitte, SLA Mobile became the first NI firm to gain a place in the UK’s Top 10 fastest-growing technology list and reserved a place within the Top 30 of the fastest-growing high-tech firms in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The company was also listed in the Sunday Times Tech Track Top 100 in 2007 and 2008. “Blending extensive knowledge of the sector and with a team of highly-skilled professionals, SLA Mobile has established a solid platform for further growth”, says Stirk. “The combination of technological expertise, innovation and a highly-successful partnering strategy has successfully positioned us in various geographical and technological markets, rapidly increasing our size and our ability to win further business. “This strategy, which has exceeded all expectations, will allow us to grow in the future and challenge new markets in 2010.”

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