Simon Hansford, CEO, 53, co-founded the business in 2011, having previously set up IT services provider Attenda. UKCloud provides cloud-based storage and services for public sector organisations, enabling them to provide secure and cost-effective services. It ranked at No 22 in the 2017 Sunday Times Tech Track 100.
What inspired you to start your business?
It was a perfect storm. I was ready for my next adventure and met a set of co-founders that had the same ambition and values. The market need and opportunity was clear. Instead of every government department, local authority and police force maintaining costly servers around the clock, we could rent them cloud servers to use when their need was greatest.
What has been your biggest challenge?
I think every business leader, including myself, would say recruitment. We have always had a large number of unfilled roles where we have struggled to find the right people with the skills, experience and beliefs that we have. In a small way, we look to address this by investing in future talent – over 40 undergraduates have worked their industrial placement year in the business and we have a growing number of digital apprentices. For our nation to have a viable and healthy tech industry, we need to invest more in early education.
What has been your best business decision?
Making ‘focus’ a key attribute and belief of the business. Too many businesses either forget or get distracted from the vision they had at the outset while chasing revenue, profit, growth or validation of what they are doing. The best decision we have made is to stay focused and remain true to our original belief and not be distracted by the many opportunities that present themselves.
What has been your worst business decision?
I’m guilty of making many poor decisions. However, to be successful one needs to be brave and confident enough to understand this is all part of learning, improving and hopefully getting it right. The worst decisions have always been due to not making the decision fast or decisively enough.
Which business leader would you most like to share a meal with, and why?
There are so many that would be interesting, educational and inspiring. I would have to go for Bill Gates though, as not only was he such a large figure as I started out in industry, but he has so many dimensions beyond just business.
What company do you most admire, and why?
There are many great brands to admire, but the companies would fit into one of two categories. Ones that have disrupted an established industry or the companies that have lived through significant change, and been true to their customers, staff and shareholders.