Are you tempted to take an online punt on the Ryder Cup this month? Or will you be logging on to put your last 10 quid on the England v Greece World Cup face-off next month? If so, the chances are that the site you choose will be running on software designed by Orbis, a rare survivor among tech startups.
Set up by 34-year-old James Caddy in 1996, Orbis started life in a front room in Chiswick, moving into bigger and better premises as more clients signed up. Today, it serves more than 65% of the online betting market, with clients such as Littlewoods, UK Tote and Ladbrokes. 'We started life providing web-based applications developments, but an early deal with Ladbrokes led us into online gaming, gambling and sports betting,' says Caddy. Orbis has since developed its Open Bet software, which enables interactive betting via WAP and interactive TV as well as on the internet.
Searching for a partner to help fund expansion abroad, Orbis was acquired by software provider NDS Group last year for pounds 15 million. Caddy and his team now operate in the Far East and Australia, and plan to expand further. 'It's essentially been a steady success story, although we've had our moments,' says Caddy. 'Almost having my house repossessed and having four small children to bring up meant that every deal mattered - we couldn't afford any cock-ups.' Fortunately, Orbis proved a punt worth the gamble.