Media | BRW Magazine Article, 25th February 2014

In a recent interview with BRW Magazine, Loft Group CEO announced that the company has raised $300,000 from wealthy investors after bagging its biggest global contract with L’Oreal, ­giving the Melbourne-based tech company an implied market capitalisation of $1 million.

It has a memorandum of understanding to provide a global e-learning platform for cosmetics giant L’Oreal, to teach hairdressing salons about shampoo and colour. Loft Group, which previously supplied L’Oreal with printed educational materials in the local market, beat out international rivals to secure the contract. The win is the company’s “biggest yet” and “significant enough that it prompted a small-scale share offering”, says Loft Group founder and chief executive Gavin Russell.

Russell, who retains majority ownership, is now in discussion with venture capital firms in the US and Singapore. He is seeking investment to grow the company from its current 50 employees to an initial target of 200 and then on to 500.

“It was very challenging to find money in Australia,” Russell says. “When I first embarked on it around two years ago, there was a really limited market that would even talk to us and investors were very thin on the ground, but the US and Singapore is where we’ve been directed to focus our efforts.”

The account win also prompted Loft Group to migrate its e-learning platform onto the cloud and the company selected IBM’s SoftLayer cloud infrastructureafter a competitive process that also included Amazon Web Services. “The reason behind [moving to the cloud] is to get that scale so we can switch countries on and off,” Russell says. “We obviously did our due diligence and I understand that the IBM solution had the best ease of use and they were most responsive when we tried to get help desk support.”

Loft started as a specialist in printed and PowerPoint educational and marketing materials, but three years ago, it built its digital education platform and has pivoted to focus more on growing this side of the business.

Business Review Weekly, Caitlin Fitzsimmons Online Editor – Published 25 February 2014 07:09, Updated 25 February 2014 10:04