When an old friend of mine approached me with the opportunity of running what sounded like a mobile phone reseller in the centre of London I was underwhelmed. Having built a business from pretty-much start-up to one that boasted, at its peak, a valuation close to €500m with locations around the world, the idea of selling mobile telephones in the UK alone didn’t seem like the ‘next big thing’ to me. It wasn’t an ego objection, it was an interest one.
Well, I was wrong. Once I got past my first reaction and agreed to meet for a coffee and listen, and in the three years since I first heard about babble (or IP Solutions as it was at the time), the scale of the opportunity just becomes clearer and clearer.
Here’s the three reasons why this industry is so rich in opportunity
1. The industry is enormously interesting. Comms is the new battleground for business success. It’s a cliché, but competitive advantage in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, is delivered through the customer experience – and that relies on great cloud-based technology to deliver a competitor beating customer experience. It’s enormously exciting and absolutely disruptive. It’s what I love.
2. The market has been dominated by old-school resellers used to selling ‘tin’. They’ve struggled to move their business model to subscription-based revenues and their sales execs are too used to selling commoditised products to sell effectively to commercial leaders. There’s a clear opportunity there.
3. I don’t have the stress of building product anymore! I spent years leading organisations that built disruptive cloud-based technology, and it’s very exciting but, boy, it’s hard. Being a reseller may not seem sexy, but we are in the great position of being able to continually source that same breakthrough technology, from lots of different places without the stress of developing and delivering it. It’s a win-win.
The more time I’ve spent in the industry the more I enjoy it. There’s a lot of smart people building solid businesses, and everyone has a different story to tell. It’s by some margin the most interesting & entertaining industry I have worked in.
And today, with our announcement that we’ve acquired Arden Communications, it just got a whole lot more interesting. In one step we’ve doubled the size of the business. We’ve now got £20m in revenues, 1200 customers to look after, two offices (one in London and one in Birmingham) and we’ve added some outstanding talent to the babble team.
For most businesses’ life gets easier with scale. Funding for growth becomes easier, hiring talent gets easier, you create more interesting and varied opportunities for the talent you have, and as a leader, it becomes easier to work on the business rather than working in it. We are no different. This acquisition opens up even more opportunity to grow even faster. We’ve got big ambitions and no excuses for not achieving them.
I’d like to welcome our new colleagues to the babble team, we are a great bunch. I’d like to welcome our new customers with the commitment that we will not let you down and I’d like to thank everyone else simply for getting to the bottom of my blog. The lesson here? Next time you feel underwhelmed by an opportunity: just listen. You’ll never know what you might be missing.