26 September 2018

The early team at UKFast

Gail, Neil and I in our early days at UKFast

Today marks 19 years since we registered UKFast.Net Limited as a new company.

Gail and I had no idea what was ahead of us but we knew Britain needed a better option for hosting than the one we’d been trying to use. The internet was just in its infancy but we were confident that it was something that was going to be around for ever.

When you look back at the technology, back then we rented a server; just a single server. We also rented out small amounts of space and spent out time helping people host their websites.

Almost two decades later

Roll on 19 years and it’s a very different picture. We have five data centres with thousands of servers and complex cloud infrastructures.

Back then, it was impossible to predict where the tech would take us. I have learned not to get too hung up on which tech is the best and, instead, focus on the people managing and designing it. Designing our own platforms, whilst incredibly ambitious in the early years and far more expensive to deploy, was the right choice. We didn’t want to compromise on service and the experience we gave our customers.

The early days of hosting firm UKFast

Richard Salisbury and Neil Lathwood in Express Networks Building, Northern Quarter, 2001.

It was probably the best decision we could have made. The platform that runs the entire business (Orpheus) is integral to everything we do. It handles everything from booking holidays for the team to communicating with clients, to launching cloud servers and managing accounts. Everything is coordinated through one central area.

Having this system frees up the people in the business to focus on what they are best at: supporting our amazing client base. After all, whilst UKFast is clearly a tech business, at the heart of everything, are our incredible people.

Over the past 19 years I have had the absolute privilege of not only watching UKFast evolve and see our innovation transform thousands of businesses, but to see so many people and come into the business develop into extraordinary characters, business people and entrepreneurs.

UKFast growing up

The youngsters in the team back in the early 2000s are now married. They’ve got children and they’re thriving. Parties have been replaced with team trips to the zoo.

This year we had the most extraordinary experience. One of our stalwart sales people, Stephen, became a grandad. Remarkable in itself but made even more so by the fact that his daughter Chloe was one of our first apprentices. Chloe joined us straight from school and we were so honoured that a child of one of our team wanted to work where her Dad works. Now, we have another generation coming through!

I honestly can’t wait to see what the next 19 years holds for UKFast. What the leaders of the future are going to do and how they will develop the business further.

To everyone involved in shaping UKFast, past and present, thank you. I say past, because whilst people come and go, it’s important not to forget the people who inspire you to make improvements to areas of the business and to myself personally.

Whilst UKFast is very different, I am very different too and I owe a great deal of my successes to the people I have met on my journey.

So, thank you to everyone for your inspiration and for being so supportive. We could not have built UKFast without you.


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