Rising Star: Stefan Topfer

Stefan Topfer started his first business when he was at university and went on to help found what is now communications giant Tiscali.

His software company for SMEs WinWeb has a turnover of £5 million.

Where did you get the idea for your latest venture?

When the internet first came out I realised this was a tool that could make small businesses the equal of larger ones, allowing them to reach customers from all over the world.

How have you funded the company?

I did it myself through selling Nacamar [now Tiscali]. I don’t like to borrow money and am not keen on bank loans. So far I’ve invested around £7 million in the company, which I have mainly spent on developing the product.

How have you promoted the business to users?

Through strategic partnerships. This is where we win contracts with larger companies and they then distribute our products to their small business clients.

How have you gained contracts?

One thing that makes us appealing is that we provide exclusivity to our clients and won’t enter into contracts with their direct competitors.

Where do you want the company to go?

In three to five years I would like to be in a position where all of our strategic partners are giving our products away for free. I would like to help as many SMEs as possible and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have multimillion user numbers in the UK.

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