Solutionize Global confident it will break £100m barrier in its current year, CEO David Bentley tells CRN
Wakefield-based Dell partner Solutionize Global is almost certainly the UK's fastest growing IT solutions provider, growing revenues 536 per cent to £41.9m in its fiscal 2020.
For our recent CRN Rising Stars report, we caught up with its CEO, David Bentley, to find out the story behind its lightning growth, and whether or not the pandemic has prompted it to rein in its ambitions.
Below we have reproduced a sample of our interview with Bentley.
CRN: You grew revenues from £6.6m to £41.9m in your fiscal 2020. What underpinned that growth?
DB: A few things collided, and in my mind it was overdue. It's taken me longer to get to where we're at than it should have.
We've always provided people in one way or another. We started to change how we were doing that four years ago, moving into fixed deliverable contracts. We won a really big piece of work with NHS Digital through G-Cloud. We beat people who on paper looked better than us.
I started hiring the right people around me and we got into some big clients who effectively started asking us, ‘can you do this for us as well?'. We stood up a managed service for Vodafone that we couldn't have done historically, and then more and more people were asking ‘why don't you sell product as well?'
You've set a £100m revenue goal for your current year (ending 31 March)? Is that achievable?
We're confident enough to say we've surpassed the £100m this year. We've landed more business with more clients. We're starting to sell a lot more product and, combined with a couple of hires from Dell, that's given us the right portfolio and team.
Has Covid impacted on your trajectory?
Thankfully, no. The dice has been really kind. The dice was not as kind for my first company - which was supporting financial services companies and a couple of SIs during the time of the financial housing crisis. But [this time around] our clients are people like NHS Digital, Vodafone, Atos and Capgemini, who want to buy more and can pay us.
What changes have you made to your business during the pandemic?
We took a decision to do a bit of an investment round in terms of polishing and maturing the internal capability. We had scaled so fast that a lot of our [systems] were archaic. We had that time to mature all that.
So we now have the team we need and feel ready to really go for it once there's light at the end of the tunnel.
You launched a graduate academy in October. How key is that to your approach?
For me it's buy… and build. We've had to buy some people. I'm not a massive fan of sales people in the traditional sense - even though it's my background. We're building two big inside sales teams that are part graduate-based. It's not giving any return today but I very much see that as the future, particularly in digital selling and how this is evolving.
Resellers and MSPs have been able to make big cost savings on travel, client hospitality and events. Do you foresee that coming back just as strongly in your business once the pandemic is under control, or - conversely - will some of those savings stick?
A lot of leaders I talk to at Dell, Vodafone don't really want to go back to 120,000 air miles. I think roughly 60 or 70 per cent will stick.
How optimistic or pessimistic are you for 2021?
I'm confident about how we're building out our portfolio and client base, but I do remain very cautious about the current crisis. I traded through the financial housing crisis and that was different as you could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Until we see the light at the end of the tunnel it's very difficult for business leaders to plan.