Hyve isn’t your average cloud hosting provider. Based in Brighton, the sixteen-year old company started life as the part-time venture of Jon Lucas and Jake Madders, playing second fiddle before the two founders went full time in 2010.
Madders’ early work on the company was carried out from the beaches of South America and, with a company jet ski and plans to buy a water-powered jet pack, Lucas and Madders could never be accused of conforming to what you might think of as the ‘traditional’ infrastructure IT image.
Indeed, the birth of the company itself was unique at the time. Hyve proudly calls itself “the UK’s first enterprise VMware cloud hosting provider” and actually started before VMware even had a hosting model in place.
“They didn’t realise that they were going to make a load of money from hosting companies, so it was before they even provided a hosting reseller model,” Madders explained to Silicon at Cloud Expo Europe. “We bought a load of perpetual licenses and then virtualised everything that we had and in doing that our costs just disappeared.
“We went from maybe £20,000-30,000 a month in costs down to £2,000 or £3,000 a month costs, but pretty much the same income. So that’s when we thought we were on to something.”
But growth didn’t happen straight away. According to Madders, it was around 2012 that the company started to see real traction: “People with dedicated servers, they just realised that cloud infrastructure works.
“We had a period where we had to really persuade people to move to the cloud but they weren’t keen to trust it, then about 5 years ago everyone was suddenly moving and we had a great platform that we could scale so we didn’t have any problems saying no. We could service pretty much anyone who called up.”
In recent years, Hyve has gone from strength to strength and now boasts the likes of Carluccio’s restaurant, T. M. Lewin and the RSPCA as customers. Arguably the most high-profile client is Southampton Football Club, which came on board in January as the club looked to revamp its digital platform.
So, with an influx of competitors entering the market as more and more businesses turn to hosting providers to manage their cloud estates, what has been the secret to Hyve’s success and its 50 percent year-on-year growth?
Madders puts a lot of it down to the personal touch that him and Lucas have been keen to retain throughout Hyve’s development: “Customers can phone us directly and because it’s a small team they can talk to our engineers without going through a big help desk which doesn’t know who they are.
“You can get in touch with a person, you know who they are and they know who you are and you’re not going through to some help desk. That’s our man niche factor that’s kept us in business and given us growth.
“All of the competitors in our sector who offer close to as good a platform as us, are so big that you’re going to have a help desk of a thousand. There’s no-one who’s really our size who offers the same level of product as us.”
Lucas agreed, saying that although retaining that personal touch has been a challenge, they’ve come up with a solution: “Every customer has got its own dedicated team, so we keep that team associated with one customer.
“We always give the customer our phone number as well and say ‘there’s the mobile number if you need us for emergencies, give us a ring’ and we’ve now done that with account managers as well. That always closed the deal.”
With an impressive roster of customers and a strong reputation to fall back on, the future is looking bright for Hyve.
Not only is the industry itself on the crest of a wave that’s showing no signs of slowing, but there is also an interesting new group of potential customers in the market. “Football teams are the biggest thing for us at the moment,” said Madders.
“All the Premier League clubs were stuck on one platform and they’ve just been told that they can now do their own thing in IT, so there’s this huge market rush right now to get them on board. They’re not concerned about budget, they just want it to be amazing and that’s like the ultimate dream customer.”
Hyve already has interest from two other Premier League teams (I pressed Madders and Lucas for names, but they wouldn’t bite) and getting three of the UK’s top football teams on board would represent a big win for the Brighton-based firm.
They also recently opened a new data centre in San Jose, California, to add to existing facilities in London, Somerset, Hong Kong and Shanghai, making Hyve a truly global company as it tries to compete with the industry’s giants.
And, if it manages to retain that personal tough, there’s no reason why Hyve won’t continue to be an option for businesses on their cloud journeys.
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