When 4cast, a provider of up-to-the-minute financial information, was founded in 1994, many companies did not have Windows software, e-mail or access to the internet. 4cast’s solution was to carry computers to potential clients to display financial reports and then leave the hardware with them once they had subscribed. Such a cash-intensive business made the start-up hard work. But an investment of £500,000 by Rob Whitmore, the current chairman, enabled the founders, Brian and Rowland Park and Ray Attrill, to buy the hardware they needed to get the business off the ground. The spread of PCs, Windows and the internet has helped the service to take off and 4cast’s sales have increased 88% a year, from £456,000 in 1996 to £3m in 1999.
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