Go to Sausage Software’s home page (http://www.sausage.com.au/) and the first thing you’re told is why the company is soooo cool.
Hey! You come into Sausage’s reception area and what do you see? A pinball machine and a pool table, of course--and the beer tap’s being installed!
This could be the secret of success in the 90s, maaan! All you management gurus get out and get a real job!
Steve Outtrim, the top sausage at Sausage, is being touted as the next Bill Gates after this week’s phenomenal public listing of his heretofore wholly owned startup. And while the odds are still against that, his is indeed a remarkable story.
Sausage shares were listed at (Australian) 75 cents last week but on the first day of trading leapt to $1.50 before settling back to $1.
Outrim still owns 50 million shares in the company, making his personal worth around $90 million.
Australian Stock Exchange rules, however, prohibit him trading his stake for two years and Outtrim says he’ll just have to “get by on his $200,000 salary and company Porsche”.
A New Zealander, Outtrim worked at the Inland Revenue as a systems programmer before emigrating to Melbourne to manage the administration side of a restaurant business.
He left that job in March 1995 to start Sausage Software. His original plan was to sell the accounting system he’d written for the restaurant, but by the start of May 1995 he had decided that wasn’t viable.
Taking a break to rethink, Outtrim decided to create his own home page on the Net. The problem was that he found most of the tools unfriendly, so he decided to develop his own.
After trialling the product--now called HotDog--on the Internet for five weeks, it became clear it was saleable and could attract enormous demand.
Sausage Software has adopted the nickname of its founder and most of its products have taken on a distinctly “wursty” flavour.
HotDog itself has to sold tens of thousands of copies, with a retail package distributed in the US through over 3500 outlets.
The North American retail version released in March 1996 of HotDog Pro 2.0 is the number one Internet-related software product.
“The original test market made suggestions for improvements and 90% of those were implemented. This created a product that was very different from the competition because it was almost entirely written by the end-users,” says Outtrim.
HotDog is being used by companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Coca-Cola, NASA, Encyclopedia Britannica, Harvard University and Telstra, and Sausage now employs over 60 staff.
Sausage Software is also claiming to be the first company in the world to successfully launch a commercial Java applet, called Egor, that allows users to bring a Web page to life with animation and sound.
The company is now focusing on the development of a variety of niche application and software tools to be known as Snaglets (yes, “snag” is Aussie slang for a sausage), for Web publishers and Internet users.
“Since the Internet became popular, a lot of people have been saying that anyone can start their own business from home and compete on an equal footing with Microsoft or Rupert Murdoch.
“There hasn’t been much evidence until now, but I’m living proof that it’s possible, and I don’t believe I’m especially brilliant or unique,” says Outtrim.
“Large companies like Microsoft are often unable, because of their size, to act on ideas quickly. The ability to act quickly is what I believe is one of Sausage Software’s great strengths. To this end, I encourage a business structure and environment of chaotic anarchy,” he says.