A small Swiss company that collects data on potential customers is one of the few firms that is bucking economic trends.
Deltavista, which grew from six employees in 1999 to 100 today, has seen demand for its "smart" databases skyrocket as firms increasingly use so-called information brokers.
The company earned between SFr10 million ($6.8 million) and SFr15 million last year and expects revenues to double in 2003.
While much of the general publishing industry is suffering due to the slump in advertising sales, the "growth prospects for the professional publishing segments of the market remain strong", says Linda Kopp, an industry analyst for Simba Information.
Sunrise, one of Switzerland's largest telecommunications firms, uses Deltavista's database to confirm a potential customer's address, identity and find out how likely he or she is to pay off bills. Other companies that use Deltavista include Credit Suisse, Tamedia, and Jelmoli.
The professional database publishing market - used by the business, medical and legal sectors - has been growing steadily since pixels started to replace paper, and online became a buzzword back in the early eighties.
Swiss-Canadian duo power start-up
Deltavista was founded by St Gallen University graduate, Thomas Staempfli, and Canadian-born software engineering expert, Karl Dawson.
Staempfli brings a business management background and customer risk industry experience to the team. Dawson, an object-oriented programming expert, manages the firm's 80 technical professionals that develop the database system.
"Traditionally information brokers who help retailers manage fraud and credit risk are vertically integrated, meaning that they manage the research, collection, and protection services. The competitive environment means that they cannot share information with each other," says Staempfli.
Information for the databases comes from various sources, such as the Swiss post office's change-of-address database, and Dun & Bradstreet, to get a better picture of a client's credit-worthiness.
"The combination of a unique underlying software system and the wide range of sources gives Deltavista competitive advantage," says Staempfli.
Last summer, Deltavista received SFr2 million follow on capital from Deutsche Post, one of its earliest investors.
"We didn't need the money. They [Deutsche Post] were exercising some options that were part of the original deal," says Staempfli.
Staempfli is concentrating on organic growth and is expanding into the German and Austrian market sectors.
swissinfo, Valerie Thompson
Deltavista is doubling revenues year-on-year and expects to continue despite economic downturn.
Company delivers a database product that combines information from sources, such as the postal service, credit checks, and commercial registers.
Data used by telcos and banks to check customer information.