THE entrepreneur behind one of the country’s fastest-growing IT services employers is marking 10 years in business with plans to expand.
Since Andrew Gilbert set up Node4 in 2004, the rapid expansion of cloud technology has enabled him to develop it into a regional leader in its field, employing 85 staff and turning over more than £13m.
His recipe for success, he says, consists of just five things: flat management, the right people, learning from mistakes, focusing on goals, and being nice. But which is the most important?
“It’s hard to choose one because some of them are linked,” he said. “The customer is the centre of what we do, so maybe ‘be nice’ is the most important one. Then again, to give good customer service you need to empower people, so flat management is important too. But if I had to choose one, it would probably be ‘be nice’.”
That may not sound very cut-throat capitalist, but the nice approach seems to be working; Node4 has been listed in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 and the Deloitte Fast 50, and Mr Gilbert has been shortlisted for the EY Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Mr Gilbert said: “I’ve been lucky enough to have some success, and a lot of that is down to the team of people I have around me.”
Although the company, which has around 800 customers, was born and is based in Derby, it employs 15 staff at its large data centre at Wakefield Europort and there are plans for significant expansion.
“At Wakefield we’ve just taken on two more people in sales and we’re still recruiting for account managers and technical staff,” said Mr Gilbert.
“We aim to go into other regions, and we’re looking for locations in the South West. We won’t stop at 85 employees; I can honestly say we could be double the size in three or four years. We’re showing no signs of slowing down – we’re staying on the rollercoaster.
“Changes in technology mean that the business doesn’t look the way I originally imagined it. Things get faster, cheaper and smaller, and we try to adapt and change accordingly.”