British entrepreneurs are often accused of not being ambitious enough. It's not a criticism that could be aimed at Blur Group (BLUR:AIM), and its founder, Philip Letts. When I first met him just after Christmas his grand plans became immediately clear, create a platform for supplying and buying professional and creative services, a disruptive technology not a million miles away from what Amazon (AMZN:NDQ) had done with flogging books back in the late 1990s.
'We're in exactly the same place now,' he then told me about the professional services industry. It might have started out on the creative/arts side but Blur has quickly expanded into vertical markets, such as software, legal, technology and accountancy. From initial sceptic (I put off meeting Letts several times because it sounded a bit daft!), I've become a convert. I get what he and Blur are trying to do, and I also get the enormous market opportunity, worth $2 trillion a year according to analysts.
Clearly the market does too, now. It appears that investors were also dubious at first, which explains why directly after IPO'ing last October at 82p, the shares did nothing. I first wrote about the company in December at 73p, and by mid-January the stock had doubled to 150p. But they made little progress for the next six months and it was a combination of the launch of its 3.0 platform, analytics tool 'blurSense' emerging and astonishing growth across key performance indicators (KPIs) that sparked the market to act.
The shares now stand at 450p, yet the KPIs keep getting better. Today's half-year results show revenues up 250% year-on-year, and beating expectations. Total project value is 300% higher against last June, projects placed on the platform have jumped 147% (769 in the six months), while repeat projects (customers using Blur for the second time or more) jumped 288%. Bigger projects are also getting increasingly submitted, as shown by last week's $500,000 media industry announcement, about the fourth or fifth similarly-sized by my count since Blur raised its project cap bar last month.
The challenge now is how to value Blur. That's always difficult for this kind of hyper-growth business, where revenues are forecast to jump roughly 10-fold by 2016 to close on $100 million. Of the three analysts from whom I've seen comment today, none has published a target price, even on a discounted cashflow (DCF) analysis. They will, in time. Perhaps a day or two from now I'd suspect, but for the moment, it appears that even hard-nosed City number crunchers have been tripped up by just how fast Blur's future is clearing.