RUNNING A TECHNOLOGY company may not be the most fashionable of pursuits in the post dot.com era but Nathan Buzza, founder and CEO of Perthbased CommTech Wireless, is bucking all the trends.
CommTech supplies wireless communications equipment to hospitals, hotels and casinos, with 3500 customers across 30 countries. it was recognised as one of the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Australia last year and WA Business News voted Nathan First Among Equals at this year’s 40under40 Awards.
The seeds of his career in information technology were sown as a 14 year-old when he was forced into hospital for surgery on a brain tumour.
“I was diagnosed with a benign astrocytoma.” he explains. “The tumour was located on the motor section ot the brain, where movement skills are controlled. When you have brain surgery. the chances of something not going wrong are not very good – basically they need to cut out part of the good brain to remove the tumorous section. I was told that there was a 90 per cent chance that something would go wrong and i might end up half-paralysed or a stroke victim.”
Five hours alter successful surgery, Nathan was up and dancing around the intensive care unit. with a year off school, though, his father needed to find something for him to do.
“My dad had bought me a brand new PC. This was 1984, when IBM PCs first came out — it cost $13,000. I can remember it so clearly — my eyes lit up when I saw this brand new IBM for me to play with.My dad turned around and said ‘Well son, that’s $13,000, at 24 per cent interest per annum. two per cent a month, payments start next week. you better start making some money‘?
Forced motivation eventually turned into 688. 3 he used his new machine to write a video game that was sold to Philips and became a worldwide best seller.
“I got $11 per copy, up to a maximum of $15,000.he says. “I got my royalty cheque in the first week it was launched! At last check, about 30 million copies had sold worldwide.”
While working for laser-game company Quasar in 1988, Nathan got the call from AustCo Communications. a company specialising in nurse call equipment such as pagers and emergency buttons in hospitals; he was R&D Manager and Executive Director at the age of 18. Taken by the revolutionary possibilities of wireless communication such as this. he sold his shares and started CommTech.
Citing stubbornness and incredibly long hours. as well as “an insane desire to spread our technology around the planet”, Nathan has seen CormmTech grow into a multi-million dollar. muiti-national business, providing vital and sometimes lifesaving services.
‘Financial remuneration is a good measure and a good reward.‘ he says. ‘but it is not the driving force. What drives me to succeed is to be able to demonstrate how our technology is being adopted and used in the real world. It makes me proud that the 000 Emergency Dispatch has my equipment sitting there as its backbone, providing a genuine service.”
For others looking to leap into business and follow his example, Nathan has some simple advice:
“If someone‘:-. got a great idea. go out there and give it a shot. Look before you leap. make sure you are diligent before you spend your hard-earned dollars, but give it a go. If you hold conviction in your own ideas, you should have the courage to go forth and at least try.”