Our Valentines Day love story …
We are delighted to be included in Rising Stars report by CRN CHANNELWEB.CO.UK in partnership with Agilitas. It highlights six small to mid-sized UK tech providers lighting up the industry with growth and profitability.
We help organisations grow through investment in Microsoft technology. We enjoyed a “barnstorming” 2018, with £407,000 net profit on revenues that vaulted 35% to £2.6m. This ranked us 343 in VAR 350. Our focus on “success management” helped us record some LOVELY revenue and profit growth. We substantially grew again in 2019, and 2020 is proving to be extremely busy! MD Rob Mossop explains …
Has being a start-up without any baggage allowed you to approach the market differently from more established Microsoft partners? We were very much a born-in-the-cloud consultancy and came in from day one with a transformative objective and transformative mandate from the customer. Certainly in the early days that really helped us stand out. But we realised if we didn’t shift gears quickly, the core technical transformation part of it was likely to become commoditised. And the thing we hit upon then, which is still very much true today, is that when I go and see a new customer for the first time, the first and – to be honest – only question I’m interested in is where they are trying to grow to as an organisation, and working back from that. We have evolved our consultative capabilities towards more of a focus on what we call success management, but also sustainable value realisation: making sure that in five years’ time, they’re not sitting there saying, ‘why on earth did we buy this particular set of licences’, but, actually, ‘we achieved everything that we thought we were going to’.
Minttulip is among the 15 most profitable firms we track, and is growing swiftly. To what do you attribute that? I think it’s because our message and commitment to customers is that we’re actually going to help them deliver measurable value from what we do. We don’t just sit there and turn things on. Because that is, as I say, a pretty commoditised service.
How are you planning to scale the business? We have a sweet spot around how big we should get – I don’t think we’re necessarily destined to push somebody out of the big five arena. We’re small, agile and reactive, and we’re trying to build those relationships on an individual basis as well as a company. We’re 40-odd people and our ideal size is probably 60 to 80 consultants, plus, the usual wraparounds.
Minttulip was acquired by IT services firm Sword in 2017. Why did you opt to join forces with a larger firm? It was a bigger story to tell our customers. We’re always keen to leverage that relationship as often as we can. And we do that quite frequently because they’re bigger than us – they’re global. They have a diversity of capabilities. They have some capabilities which are very similar, which is great because it means we can draw on a larger resource pool in certain contexts where we need a bit of backup and a bit of extra support. And it gives customers confidence that we’re not just one organisation living and dying by itself.
What metrics do you look at outside growth and profits? Customer happiness and satisfaction is probably the most critical factor that I look at. That would be crystallised in things like willingness to act as case studies and references. Outside that, the most critical piece is the happiness and wellbeing of staff, because the reality is that good consultants are hard to find, and you need to keep them. Our staff turnover is pretty low. Generally in a year it’s between around five and seven per cent.
How will successful firms in the channel need to reshape their businesses in the 2020s? One is understanding the kind of relationship that I think customers want from their suppliers. And that’s very much the model of long-term, shared purpose. So not just coming in from the perspective of the salesperson trying to hit a quota on a target, but from a perspective of ‘OK, we’re going to have peaks and troughs over a period of time, but we’ll always make the effort to understand what the longer-term story is’. The second element is co-opetition. And that’s the recognition that customers probably don’t want you to do everything for them. They probably expect you to work with your competitors to find the best solution for them.