The Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 winners: What makes these companies special?
Last Thursday, tech visionaries from across the UK gathered to celebrate the growing success of their respective organisations, both large and small, in the Montcalm Hotel for the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 awards. It ranks the 50 fastest growing companies in the UK based on their revenue growth rate over the last five years. Having guided companies through the harshest economic recession to date, it was remarkably evident that these leaders could not have succeeded without bold and flexible strategies, talented people that enable growth and having access to suitable sources of finance.
At this year’s awards, the winning company, Switch Concepts achieved a remarkable five year growth rate of 10,477%*, leading the pack in showing businesses how to succeed in a difficult tumultuous financial climate. The average five year growth rate across all the companies reported on the night was 1,695%*.
These numbers emphasise the importance of having a Chief Executive Officer who has a clear vision for the organisation and a team behind him/her which is focused on driving the company to succeed through hard work. Most importantly, having a CEO who has the ability to foresee demand, knows which geographical markets to target and who also has the capacity to build a strong target customer base is key to organisational success as it inspires staff to do likewise and build connections (formal and informal) in the industry.
Bold and flexible business strategy
According to the Deloitte CEO Fast 50 entrants survey, 60%* of respondents claimed that a sound business strategy was the primary factor in determining a company’s success. This includes having the ambition to succeed and the foresight about knowing where to play, how to win and when to tailor strategies when needed. 56%* of CEOs at this year’s Fast 50 had businesses with headquarters in London, which shows that there is a tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs, looking to set up a business in the technological hub of Europe. However, there was also substantial growth from regions in the UK such as Scotland (12%)* and the South East (10%)* with businesses such as Switch Concepts and Skyscanner doing particularly well.
Over the next three years, it is expected that the biggest opportunities for growth will be Western Europe (50%)* and North America (69%). In the UK, this growth is not exclusive to any one sector, with 52% of growth expected in Software, 30%* expected in Internet, 8%* in Telecoms, 4%* in electronics, 4%* Media and Entertainment and 2%* in Green Tech.
How LDeX Group has succeeded
Having sold off a successful Manchester based datacentre to Telecity Group PLC in 2011, the founders of LDeX Group had a clear vision that they would like to replicate the success of the company and become a national datacentre operator based in London with an acute focus on customer service and operational excellence. The company has since gone from strength to strength as a colocation and network connectivity operator, having acquired managed communication services provider, Ping Networks, in 2013.
In recent years, the company has grown at an exponential rate of 897% and are a leading name in their sector. Rob Garbutt (CEO), Paddy Doyle (COO) and Simon Chamberlain (CTO) attribute growth to having a clear vision as to how to succeed in the market and develop the business going forward. It is also highly focused on taking care of customers and employing high calibre staff, which possess a mixture of both technical and commercial expertise, who have a keen desire to learn and be part of the company’s success. At this year’s awards, the company was ranked 31st fastest growing company overall and 12th in the UK Internet sector.*
In today’s fast paced technological environment, it’s not only about finding the technical talent who are able to perform the day to day technical tasks, it is about sourcing people who can be developed and have the skillset to translate the worlds of business and technology to stakeholder groups. People want to be able to feel that they are making a difference in their role and add value to the organisation, giving them ample opportunity for career progression.
Inspiring success and knowing what makes people tick
The key to being a successful leader is showing others in the organisation how to succeed in their role and how to get to where they want to be in their career. It was clear to see at the Deloitte UK Fast 50 awards that there were many inspirational leaders in the room, with a clear focus on attracting the right staff and in turn have promoted them through the ranks to career success.
Each of the CEOs started off their businesses with a certain amount of capital, staff and resources. Through determination, hard work and strong leadership skills, these companies have grown at an exponential rate over the past five years. This has been as a result of recruiting key staff that have grown with the business and built relationships with stakeholders and customers. It is these people who have created exciting new solutions and markets for businesses.
Employees want to be able to feel that the organisation fosters a culture of innovation enabling staff to carry out their jobs and report back with progress updates. These Fast 50 leaders understand people’s motivations and help them get to where they want to be in their career through additional training (external or internal) and/or giving them challenging and rewarding tasks where they can prove their success in the organisation.
Traditionally in the technology SME sector, there has been a shortfall in skills with CEOs identifying a lack of new talent with relevant skills as the greatest threat to growth over the short and longer term (19% in the next 12 months, 24% in five to ten years’ time)*. However, with programmes such as STEM amongst others in place, this should hopefully be addressed in the future and help organisations in finding the right people with the right skills through adequate awareness of how these jobs can make a difference to the economy.
The Deloitte Fast 50 CEO survey reflected this with 41% of CEOs identifying employee talent, having a culture of innovation (41%)* and strong leadership skills (26%)* as the key factors of success. What is fantastic to see is that all of these companies are based in the UK.
Suitable Sources of Finance
The Fast 50 companies had a clear understanding of the financing options which were available to them and how they could ensure cash flow and continued revenue growth over the next 12 months. Similar to LDeX Group and detailed in the Deloitte survey, eight of the top 10 would classify themselves as owner funded. Other companies are expecting to access venture capital or private equity funding in the next 12 months.*
Over the past 17 years, the Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 programme has been dedicated to recognising those businesses that have defied the odds and entered a phase of vigorous and sustained growth over the last five years.
Start-ups in the United Kingdom should look to emulate the success of the Fast 50 companies by looking into their common characteristics as outlined above. Recruiting the right people to take your business forward, sourcing the capital to make it happen, looking after your customers as your business grows and having the right leaders on board will hopefully enable your business to be a Deloitte Fast 50 winner in the coming years.
As a manager at LDeX Group, it was my absolute pleasure to be in the presence of these technology leaders on Thursday and I’m looking forward to seeing these organisations thrive and succeed going forward.
Source: *Deloitte LLP - Defining fast tech growth – Fast 50 community – CEO survey
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Anne-Marie Lavelle, Group Marketing Manager, LDeX Group