The creation of an open environment where computer enthusiasts can exchange ideas freely was the dream of Jefferson Wat, who made it come true when he established TopDomain Network in 1995. TopDomain provides innovative Internet and intranet services. Mr Wat, the company's director, said the launch of key Internet services such as Navigator hit the company hard in 1996. 'As most people in Hong Kong usually go for big names, ISPs [Internet service providers] like IMS, Supernet or Hong Kong Star are likely to be in a better position in the marketplace,' Mr Wat said. TopDomain suffered initially, but saw a turnaround when a growing number of users found the services from big ISPs unsatisfactory. Mr Wat said: 'The users start turning to other ISPs who can provide better service and connectivity. This has created great market opportunities for us.' He said TopDomain offered customised, value-added services such as a CrossFax, a networked computer fax system that centralises fax operations and shortens transmission times. 'This has given us a competitive edge in the marketplace,' Mr Wat said. 'Our fax server is the only one that fully integrates with the Internet in Hong Kong.' He said it helped clients save money, particularly when long-distance fax transmissions were unsuccessful and a re-dial service was needed. 'For instance, dialing to the mainland costs you about 40 per cents less than the call-back services.' Mr Wat said he invested years of research into a tool called the Internet Bilingual Index System. It enabled users to search Chinese-language sites using Chinese characters. He said: 'This system is very user-friendly. It supports both traditional and simplified Chinese character sets, and it has the ability to switch between and convert simplified and traditional Chinese characters. 'In case the user wants to read a Chinese homepage but does not know how to input Chinese characters, he can type the corresponding character in English, then the system would automatically do a simple and straightforward English-to-Chinese translation for him. This has made reading Chinese homepages very simple and easy.' However, good products and reliable service were only part of TopDomain's success, Mr Wat said, with marketing another important attribute. He said: 'Last year, we participated in a small-scale Internet-related exhibition where we took the chance to organise our own press conference.' This article appears courtesy of the Software Industry Information Centre (SIIC) Journal. Contact the SIIC, phone 2788 5693, fax 2788 5878, e-mail: email@example.com . URL: www.it.hkpc.org/siic .