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Australia’s Number 2 is Anthill’s Number 1 at the sixth annual Cool Company Awards

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What are the Anthill Cool Company Awards?

The Cool Company Awards were launched in 2006 as a way for Anthill to acknowledge and celebrate Australian organisations that are doing things differently to bring about positive change. Cool Companies stay one step ahead of the rest. They breed leaders who are rule-makers and rule-breakers. They are trend-setters in attitude and action. Quite simply, they are … cool! More.

iiNet wins Anthill’s top honour

Company: iiNet
Website: iinet.net.au
State: WA
Category: Big Kahuna

The former upstart Internet service provider that once organised staff for a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro finds itself at the summit of ‘coolness’, taking home the top accolade at this year’s Cool Company Awards.

iiNet likes to call itself a challenger brand. Primarily, that means taking on communications behemoths like Telstra and Optus (sometimes in court). Within the last year, though, iiNet pushed itself into the No. 2 spot for DSL (with 650,000 DSL subscribers) behind Telstra. So, iiNet’s latest marketing campaign — we’re the new No. 2 — is about having it both ways: the solidity and trustworthiness of a big telco with the spunky, imaginative soul of a startup.

The company started in 1993 in a Western Australia garage also challenges itself with breakthrough products, such as Naked DSL in 2007, phone-modem combo BoB in 2009 and internet TV in 2010. Its latest product is iiNet Labs, a research and development division that focuses on the needs of the company and its customers.

Products recently released by iiLabs include BoB2TM, which combines broadband, phone, VoIP and IPTV; and Wireless Bridge, which wirelessly connects iiNet’s IPTV product to the Internet no matter where it is in the house.

Being iiNet also means setting up customer-service centers in four time zones, so call centre employees can work human hours. It means letting staff strut around the office in pajamas to mark the launch of fetchtv, an Internet television innovation. Everyone received a goody bag with a branded mug, hooded jumper, beanie, popcorn and hot chocolate. Once they had finished work for the day, staff were invited to stick around for a pajama party with plenty of drinks and food.

In addition to its “Follow the Sun” customer-service model, iiNet’s corporate staff have the flexibility of working from home via VPN; a work-from-home program also is available for support staff on contact centres.

“iiNet embraces positive change while our people live, breathe and believe in our products,” the iiNet crew says. “Around our offices, there’s a thriving culture of innovation and boundary-pushing. iiNet staff tend to champion new ideas because they’re generally accepted and celebrated.”

Its web service includes a quota-less Freezone of content for customers and their kids. The company offers free workshops on its iiNet Open Day. And then there’s the top-geek contest. Participants are asked to submit videos that lay out why pocket protectors are embedded in their chests. Last year’s winner, Cassandra James of Tasmania, won an all-expenses-paid trip to the ComicCon convention in San Diego.

For its use of innovative technologies and clever marketing, and for challenging some of Australia’s biggest brands, iiNet was named this year’s Coolest Company — epitomising how hard work and ingenuity, born from even the humblest of beginnings, can achieve astonishing outcomes.

iiNet manifesto — behind the scenes

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