7 October 2019

Hosting and cloud firm UKFast in a Sunday Times article about taking on the giants of the market

The article in the Sunday Times this weekend.

What happens when the new player in your market is a global giant with low prices, wide reach and deep pockets?

The assumption is that you either a) end up selling to the global giant or b) are crushed by them. However, there is a third option: carry on regardless. That’s exactly what we did with UKFast when Amazon joined the cloud market back in 2006. It would have been too easy to cut and run, but I love a challenge!

They had, and still have, huge infrastructure and extremely low prices. However, if you step back, there is always an opportunity. You have to create a differentiator. Amazon created a tech service to cut out the need to speak with human beings; we have a service that is built on personal service; on the people behind the tech. What makes you unique? That is the key to competing with business giants.

More than a decade later, we’re still here and still going strong, as are Amazon.

I spoke about this topic with Liam Kelly from the Sunday Times recently, and the article was published this weekend. Seeing the conversation in print sent me even further down memory lane. Sometimes we’re so busy moving forward that we forget the details of the journey we’ve been on.

Out of the market?

Amazon joining the market wasn’t the first time we faced an uphill battle at UKFast. When we first set out, one of the main players in the British hosting market laughed at me, saying we wouldn’t last five minutes. Equally, when we were hosting servers within outsourced data centres, the data centre owners at the time were one by one being bought up by a single, big provider.

When we moved out of the main data centre, ending our contract with that provider, they told me: “it doesn’t matter where you move to, we will buy them and you’ll end up back with us anyway.” They had no idea at the time that we had opened our own facility; the first of several that we have in operation today.

The moral of the story, then, is somewhat of a David and Goliath-esque tale. Competing with business giants instead of mythical ones. A massive player entering a market doesn’t mean the end of your niche, of your status in the market and it certainly does not mean the end of your business. You need to find your difference – what sets you apart and how you can absolutely maximise that.

I talk often about the UKFast journey and the lessons I’ve learned along the way in the Mind Your Own Business podcast. In this week’s episode I share about one occasion when we fell foul of one of the giants in the market, but how that became one of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned in business.

 

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