Wollongong private investigation and surveillance business Overwatch Investigations is encouraging more Illawarra businesses to enter the Telstra Business Awards next year.
The business, run by Steve Patterson, was a finalist in the recent awards after being nominated for the Start Up Business Award and was one of just six businesses selected for the category across the state.
Mr Patterson did not win the award but felt like a winner because by entering he learnt so much about his business.
He said several nights work went into addressing all the judging criteria after someone else nominated Overwatch Investigations as the first ever private investigation company in Australia to be a finalist.
But the feedback Mr Patterson got from the judging process and the interview with the judges was invaluable.
‘‘The response we got to our entry was 47 pages,’’ he said.
‘‘We learnt about our company in so many different ways. They sent us this business health check which... told us where our business is. The biggest thing to come out of the night was a plan for the future. We came back with contacts and confidence. We knew we were doing all right. And we were hoping we were going down the right track.’’
But Mr Patterson said there were not many private investigation firms around to benchmark against.
‘‘We walked out of this with all the confidence and saying ‘yes we are doing something good and yes we have got a future here’.’’
Mr Patterson said the process was completely impartial so he was over the moon about being one of about 25 finalists named from more than 4000 entries.
He encouraged more Illawarra businesses to enter, saying they would learn a lot about their business from the process.
He said Overwatch Investigations was a small, growing business founded in 2012 that would keep entering the Telstra awards to learn as much as it could and would be there again in 2015.
And he would like see more local enterprises do the same.
‘‘Looking around, there was no one else there from the Illawarra,’’ Mr Patterson said.
Overwatch Investigations uses experienced investigators who hold full Commercial and Private Inquiry Agent (CAPI) licenses and is now searching for another online investigator.
Many of them are former law enforcement or military personnel and others who have been private investigators for years.
The business has done everything from helping private and corporate clients to assisting an elderly lady who hadn’t seen her grandchildren in 20 years.
Overwatch Investigations also does background and asset checks, missing persons searches, workplace and online investigations, bug sweeping and security camera installation.
‘‘We do a lot of surveillance and undercover work and... accident investigation jobs where we try and find witnesses and try and recreate accidents.’’