When a friend’s shipment of red telephone boxes to California went missing, banker Darrel Sheinman hit on the idea of tracking objects on the internet by using satellites. He founded Pole Star in 1998 with savings, money from friends and a £975,000 investment from Mitsubishi. Pole Star’s Purplefinder system is now used by clients such as BP and P&O to track their ships. The London company is also benefiting from maritime anti-terrorism initiatives and is helping to fit the panic systems that ships must now have by law. Sales have risen 181% a year from £151,000 in 2000 to £1.2m in 2002, and the company expects to break even in 2003.
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