FORMER Scottish Telecom senior executives Angus McSween and Bill Dobbie set up the integrated telecoms and internet services company iomart in December 1998, with its own telecommunications licence and a full interconnect agreement with BT. Since then they've driven hard through the volatile, even stormy conditions besetting the internet industry to reach selected, salient positions of advantage in the market.

Some would say they paid for their own impatience by going for flotation on the Alternative Investment Market last April during a dip in dot com fervour among share buyers, raising less than they might have. But the #19m they did raise has proved an ample war chest. And they have used it wisely to enhance iomart's strategic capabilities.

In the six months to June its turnover was #1.53m and its workforce had already grown from 76 to 126, with 85 in its support centre in Stornoway and the rest in its new premises at the West of Scotland Science Park in Glasgow.

Its original ISP for individual users, the funky multimedia Madasafish, has since expanded its services and online merchandise, carefully rolled out its own flat-fee surfing package to avoid reduced quality and congestion, and fostered another for the modern Scot, Jings.

In the business market, where it operates under its own brand name and through partners such as and the Freeserve-Barclays joint venture Clearly Business, it has also invested rapidly and shrewdly. It has formed strategic partnerships with the US

e-mail solutions provider Sendmail and data storage specialist Hitachi Data Systems to meet the fast-growing demand for outsourcing cost-effectively and securely the often complex e-mail services critical for success in electronic commerce.

Acquiring web-hosting and co-location business NSL for a nominal sum has augmented its own activities and expertise in these areas, and provided a new point of presence through NSL's Edinburgh base as it rolls out its asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) service for extremely fast, always-on Internet connection.

Having jumped in quickly to be one of the first operators to offer ADSL using BT's own product range, in September iomart won the right to install its own equipment in BT local exchanges. That should in turn put it ahead of most when BT unbundles control of ADSL connection between the customer's premises and the local exchange.

McSween says: ''As a licensed telco with no legacy to protect, we can move swiftly to offer our customers the full potential from this new broadband technology. It creates new opportunities for iomart in what we believe will be a rapidly growing UK market.''

Fast-moving, yes; foolhardy, no.