Stewart McGrath, co-founder of tech start-up Squixa. Photo: Louise Kennerley
When Stewart McGrath left behind the relative comfort of life as chief of technology at successful online auction house GraysOnline and struck out on his own, he didn't want to join the groaning ranks of social media start-up wannabes.
Instead, he formed Squixa with former Grays colleague Daniel Bartholomew. Although they only started in May 2012, they are already gaining the support of well-respected backers.
The company, which is half way through completing a $1 million capital raising, is trying to solve a problem that plagued McGrath in his earlier role: how to make websites faster.
The explanation behind what Squixa does is shrouded in tech-speak, but McGrath has honed his elevator pitch to ensure that he gets his message across. "We have a platform that sits between the web browser and our customers' own web servers," he explains.
"As the content passes through our platform we modify it so that it can be more readily slurped up by the reader's browser. Our system looks through the content for opportunities to optimise it, and it all happens as it passes through".
Essentially the business works from the premise that today's web users have no patience with sluggish site performance and will leave a page if it takes too long to load.
Squixa analyses web pages in real time as they are about to be presented and makes tweaks such as removing poorly performing code and changing the format and file size of images to suit the preferences of different browsers, such as Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer.
Backers of the company include the chief executive of ASX listed telecommunications company Vocus, James Spenceley, and former GraysOnline director Damian McCarthy.
Spenceley told The Australian Financial Review he had bought in because he believed the company addressed a gap in the market and had a capable management team.
"Page load times are critical to business, so it has a very performance-focused product that does exactly what clients need in a very demonstrable way," he said.
"The market for website optimisation is under-developed both nationally and globally and my feeling is the company will see high, yet consistent growth. Longer term I think they would be an acquisition target for a number of players."
Squixa is being advised on its capital raising by Deloitte and Deloitte partner Damien Tampling is also a backer of the business. He said the company was a strong performer with few competitors. This month a rival player called Yottaa closed a $US16 million funding round, which was led by Intel Capital.
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