Open the pages of any business publication these days and there is a plethora of announcements about this company or that company receiving another round of funding. Funding firms are shaping the start-up industry with their millions and providing incentives to develop the ideas that they deem important. But does it really have to be this way? Is this the only way to get an idea off the ground and make it into a real business? Let me tell you Hyve’s story to help answer this question.
Working as part of a big tech company was great, I got lots of experience, met some really smart people and learned a whole lot, but I always felt like a little cog in a big machine – and that is never what I wanted from my career. Take one restless tech geek and there is likely another one in close proximity, and that is exactly what I found in my co-founder, Jon Lucas.
Jon and I started playing around with technology, rented space in a data centre and built the best hosting platform that we could. We realised it was our passion for technology, our desire to work for ourselves and the investment of our own capital to start the business that fuelled the many evenings and weekends spent in the data centre. We started hosting a few companies and our customer base grew gradually – we reinvested everything we made in the technology, determined to make it a new hosting standard.
Then came the big decision – when are we big enough to dedicate ourselves fully to Hyve and growing the company. This came quicker than expected and we have never looked back.
As the company continued to expand, we remained dedicated to reinvesting our profits into growing and building out our hosting infrastructure. Since the beginning, we have focused on taking smaller (quality) steps, and doing it this way we have organically grown the business, but we have always been cautious with our cash flow, every penny counted and we haven’t invested in anything that wasn’t essential.
The perks of going it alone
The main benefit of starting and growing the business from personal investment is that we don’t have to justify any spend to a board or be beholden to paying back investors. This allows us to maintain full control of the company, every decision – good and bad – falls on our shoulders. We can focus on running the company in a way that benefits our team and our customers, while still being dynamic and adapting to the always changing technology market.
Dedication once up and running
There is a lot to be said for working in a company where you can leave your work at the door when the clock hits 5.30pm. For some people this is the key to job satisfaction, but for Jon and I this wasn’t the case. There is no doubt that growing your own business requires intense levels of dedication – not just to get the company off the ground – but to grow it into a successful organisation.
As a business owner the survival of the company is down to the level of commitment you can offer. Whether that is working late or on weekends, sacrificing your free time to nurture contacts and customers, and solve problems or always being available to support your staff – the onus is on you.
It is true that this can be more than a little stressful, but the opportunity to have control over your future and watch a lasting business develop before your eyes is definitely worth the hassle.
How committed are you?
Since we started to grow our presence in the market, we have been approached by multiple investors and private equity firms who are interested in partnering with us. However, at this moment in time, that isn’t something we are at all interested in. We have no shareholders to worry about and we like it that way. It gives us the freedom to shape the company in the way we want and allows us to keep the business agile.
There is no doubt that by declining outside investment we are keeping the responsibility firmly on our shoulders. While this may not be the easiest option, as co-founders we are committed to keeping the company running the way we want, with no outside actors to consider. In doing so, we can ensure that we provide the best service for our customers, the best environment for our employees and make Hyve the best business it can be.
Starting a business this way has had many rewards although it has meant a lot of long hours. It has required a lot of work on the part of Jon and I – evening and weekend trips to data-centres, for example – but I really enjoyed it and I have such a personal pride in seeing the success of the company, having been involved in every step of the journey.
For some companies the best way to grow is through outside investment, but it is important to know that this isn’t the only option. With hard work, dedication and a passion for the business, it is possible to create a long lasting organisation from the ground up.
Jake Madders is co-founder and director of Hyve