Focus Group – Nick Poyner
Ralph Gilbert and Chris Goodman, founded the business, and its first few months saw the business being run from a home office. Joined by Paul Tolhurst as financial controller the following year, the operation moved to a tiny office in Hove Technology Centre – with just enough room for 3 desks, a white-board and a kettle!
Our product centred on the re-sale of voice minutes, commonly referred to a ‘calls and lines’. This was complimented by sales of telephone system and broadband via strategic partners. Many in the industry would have argued that our business model was flawed. Articles in industry magazines already had headlines of, ‘No margin in minutes’ and ‘Is this the end of the PBX?’.
With this in mind we chose a commercial strategy that gave us the greatest opportunity to deliver consistent growth. Our route to market was both via Direct Sales and via a Reseller community. We took opportunities to diversify the portfolio with complementary products and services.
Our staffing policy was simple. Finding good staff is one of the biggest challenges – when you find them, keep them! In 2005 we recruited our first member of staff. Vicki Rishbeth started as a telesales executive. She is now our Operations Director with a team of 21 staff under her watch
By 2010 we had our own system sales team and had launched a Mobile and an Energy division. We had over 40 staff and had grown out of Hove Tech Centre.
We took the decision in 2011 to move to new premises, re-brand and launch 3 new divisions; IT Services, Network Services and Digital Media. Now with our offices in Europa House, Southwick, we had room to grow…and it didn’t take us long. By April 2014, just 3 years later we had taken on 80 new staff. In 2017 our employee numbers grew to over 300 staff and we have created 2 new divisions for Print and Security.
Our portfolio of divisions has increased and now includes Voice, Mobile, IT, Data, Media, Print, Security and Energy. We employ over 300 staff and provide services in excess of 10,000 businesses.
We’re award winning and we’ve made a number of successful acquisitions. But most importantly…we still have fun. We enjoy an annual summer party where everyone and their families are invited to a day of fun in the sun. We play cricket on the green at lunch-time, dress up in silly costumes on the occasional Friday, and take every opportunity to embarrass the senior management with obscure challenges!