Celebrating Two Decades of Innovation: Think Cloud Marks its 20th Anniversary!
Posted on 22nd August 2023 at 07:38
Join Leon, Paul, Dean and Scott on The Hack podcast as they dive deep into the world of Think Cloud. In this special episode commemorating the 20th anniversary of Think Cloud
Unleashing the Power of Think Cloud.
As we embark on Think Cloud's 20th Anniversary, it's time to pause, reflect, and celebrate the incredible journey that has led us here. Over the last two decades, Think Cloud has pioneered ground-breaking solutions, driving digital transformation across industries.
Today, we are thrilled to have Scott Clark, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Think Cloud join Leon, Dean and Paul, as they delve into the fascinating story of how it all began.
Scott envisioned taking a start-up from humble beginnings to becoming a market leader in proactive cyber-risk management, comprehensive business, and end-user IT support.
From early on, Scott Clark's path was illuminated by pixels and code. In his youth, he was captivated by Atari 2600 and Spectrum 128K and yearned for the days he'd own a Commodore Amiga.
Many nights, he sat in front of the soft blue glow from new computer screens user interfaces, diving deep into the worlds of games, tools, and emerging tech.
Yet, for Scott, it wasn’t merely about using the devices; a deep curiosity drove him. Disassembling machines to unveil their inner mysteries, he'd challenge himself to reassemble them. By the time he was leaving school his technical skills outstripped that of many of his tutors. This fascination with tech has never waned. Today, as Managing Director and CTO of Think Cloud, Scott’s enthusiasm for cutting-edge digital technology mirrors his love for video game consoles of the early '90s.
Yet constructing a flourishing MSSP required more than mere enthusiasm. Truly, five unique strokes of Luck (Or Genius) have marked Think Cloud's journey, each elevating the company to newfound heights of accomplishment.
#1 Virtual Networking Was Born
In 1995, Scott found his footing at a tech service firm named Data Care Maintenance. Although he’d spent his entire childhood pulling machines apart to see how they worked, his technical aptitude didn’t win him the role. Even though his younger years were consumed with disassembling gadgets to grasp their inner workings, his technical expertise didn't clinch the position for him.“I landed the interview since I taught karate to one of the directors,” he laughs. “That was my only differentiator on my CV.”
The devices Scott worked on back then were quite different from today's sleek computers. This was before the Windows era; the workshop brimmed with machines like Apricot F1s, Olivetti M240s, and Amstrad PCWs.
Years later, older technicians would pat him on the shoulder and say, “You don’t know how easy you’ve got it. We had to deal with complex machines like the Commodore PET.”
Reflecting on his technical start, Scott smiles and says, "Of course I did. I used to repair them!”
Scott valued the job but recognised that focusing solely on outdated tech wouldn't elevate his career. Seeking to diversify his skills, he joined a networking course. Yet, he soon discovered that his self-taught knowledge from childhood was more comprehensive than the course offered. He found himself correcting instructors and aiding peers with their assignments. Rather than viewing Scott as a nuisance, one insightful instructor saw promise in him. He mentioned starting a new venture and extended an invitation for Scott to be part of it.
Scott agreed but the business had a rocky beginning. Their primary client was a college with 50 computers. Managing and maintaining these devices sustained the young company. However, the business faced a significant financial setback when the college lost funding.
We urgently needed clients.
In a bold move to attract more business, Scott's boss approached eight local magistrates' courts, offering them comprehensive IT support for just £1,000 annually. On the surface, it seemed like an incredibly low rate. However, there was a twist: The £1,000 only covered a helpline for IT issues. Any support beyond phone assistance came with additional charges.
Surprisingly, the magistrates' courts frequently required additional services. While the low initial offer provided Scott and his team with an entry point, the add-on services truly generated revenue.
This experience taught Scott the value of innovation, embracing unique approaches, and daring to be different. These principles have been pivotal in shaping the companies success today.
Scott's next chapter took a turbulent turn. Even as the business showed signs of rapid growth, internal challenges lurked. His boss misjudged the company's tax obligations and indulged in personal luxuries, draining the firm's finances. Facing a cash crunch, the inevitable decision to downsize was made, and unfortunately, Scott was shown the door.
Scott got a job at a nearby IT Outsourcing company that helped big groups like hospitals, food safety teams, and big factories. At the same time, he was always learning. He read many books, did well in tests, and learned about new tech stuff. But he learned so much so quickly that his job couldn't keep up with him.
He wanted to find a new job but needed to figure out where to go. Then, something amazing happened.
Suddenly, his old boss called him and said, "Do you want to take over my business?"
Moving to New Zealand, he needed someone to take over. It felt just right for Scott, so they made a deal, and Scott became the new owner.
At first, things were simple. Scott's "office" was a small room in his parents' home. He set up special phone lines to help customers from afar and called many people to get more work.
He began with just £100. In half a year, he turned it into £30,000! Soon, he had so much work that he needed help. However, the faster his young business grew, the harder it was to develop even more.
Scott said most of his jobs were about fixing things when they broke. Every job meant new tasks, new agreements, and new bills. It was a lot to handle. So, remembering what he learned from his old boss, Scott realised he had to be creative and try different ways to make his business better.
#2 The Crazy Dancer
It's been a long time. I laughed recently about the leadership video you showed, where Scott is the first 'crazy dancer' in the field"
Yes, Scott has some unique dance moves! And Dean you was right there, being the first to join and support his dancing!
"There is no movement without the first follower!"
When we started, the tech would frequently break, leading to many call-outs. When people faced issues, they'd call me, and I'd charge them by the hour. My business involved selling printers and PCs. It was through this that I met Dean who worked in a small shop where I bought PCs that he built. This is where I taught him how to repair them.
Dean says: We recently decommissioned our last Windows 98 machine. It was stationed at the bridge, controlling some of the signs. That machine had been around for about 18 years, from when I was just 18 years old. It really deserves a place as a trophy.
#3 The Region's First MSP - Managed IT Services Provider
Instead of fixing problems when they came up, we thought about offering a "subscription". This meant that companies would pay to regularly look after and manage their IT . It's like how some people pay monthly to watch shows on Netflix today, but back in 2007, this idea new to the market.
At first, getting people to switch to this new idea was hard. But, after some time, we earned a steady £3,000 monthly. It wasn't a huge amount, but he knew he would get it each month, no matter what. It seemed like an excellent plan for his business.
However, a big problem came a year later. The world faced a massive money crisis called the Great Recession. Many businesses failed, and monthly subscription idea wasn't working anymore. We had to return to our old working method to make ends meet.
But we didn't give up on the subscription idea. We changed it and offered "all you can eat" support. This meant companies could get as much help as they needed for one fixed price. To many businesses, Scott's offer was like a great deal they couldn't resist.
With this change, and as the world began to heal from the money crisis, Virtual Networking became more and more successful.
Scott's expertise had started as a server engineer coupled with Deans ability to build PC's. We knew the ins and outs of setting up and maintaining efficient server and PC systems. These skills allowed allowed Scott to see a significant shift coming in the industry: traditional on-site servers were on their way out.
As cloud computing began to surface, Scott recognised its potential. It offered a smoother experience for both tech service providers and their clients. Even though cloud technology was just taking baby steps, Scott made a significant bet on its future, marking his third brilliant move.
Much like his subscription idea, people were skeptical about the cloud in the early days.
He would talk to potential clients about the benefits of cloud technology: the flexibility to work from anywhere, on any gadget, and at any hour. Yet, many responded with a preference for the traditional office setup.
However, the tide slowly turned. People started gravitating towards cloud-based solutions. Local servers were replaced with options like Microsoft OneDrive, and Microsoft Office was transformed into Microsoft 365. As Scott observed, once someone got a taste of the cloud's advantages, they rarely returned to old ways.
#4 We Have To Think Cloud
Think Cloud was born when Leon McQuade joined in 2018 and he reminisces about his early days with Scott and Dean when he became a client of the then-named Virtual Networking. He fondly recalls a time when he stubbornly ignored Scott's advice, insisting on using "Google Apps for Your Domain" which is now Google Workspace - to modernise a company established in the 1940s. Scott chimes in, saying, "Just a week before Christmas, he (Leon) wanted a migration to Google G Suite and move from Sage to Xero. At that time in 2010, our expertise was in Microsoft. That's what we knew and what everyone else used, not Google Apps For Your Domain."
Leon confesses he urgently needed Scott and Dean's help after attempting the migration himself. "I botched the move to the cloud," he admits. "It was a complete mess. But Scott, you've always been there for me. Even when I messed up, you and Dean worked behind the scenes, recovering everything I'd lost and setting things right." He credits the Google Cloud with enhancing communication, driving down costs, and boosting productivity, which ultimately led to an explosive eight-figure growth,
Leon shared, "It was my vision to fast-track fit-outs. With Google Cloud's capabilities, we seamlessly coordinated projects globally, slashing project times for clients. My first bluechip client win was with Kurt Geiger at Manchester Airport. They projected a six-week fit-out, but we achieved it in just 2.5 weeks. The cloud wasn't merely a tool; it transformed how we did business"
Thanks to cloud technology, we innovated with off-site modular manufacturing. We expanded beyond traditional on-site construction, leveraging a global supply chain that the cloud optimised. This strategy broadened our horizons, securing work with top-tier brands such as Harrods, Selfridges, 3.1 Philip Lim, Tory Burch, Alexander McQueen, EE, Whistles, Versace, Selfridges, JD Sport, and Cath Kidston to name but a few!
In the absence of cloud technology, setting up 15 stores for 3.1 Philip Lim in global capitals like Milan, New York, Copenhagen and even as far as Honolulu Hawaii would have been impossible. Moreover, this technology was instrumental in fueling expansion, pushing our reach into regions like Europe, America, and the UAE."
Our vision for Think Cloud was to build a service built upon our combined experiences. But everything changed even faster in the spring of 2020 as everyone had to Think Cloud! The pandemic hit, upending traditional business operations. Companies had to shift to remote work almost instantly, and cloud technology became an immediate need. Think Cloud was right there, offering expertise to help businesses adapt to this new landscape.
In today's context, managed IT is more than just overseeing a company's technology infrastructure. It has evolved to play a strategic role in achieving business objectives. Managed IT now involves proactively monitoring systems to prevent issues, implementing cyber security measures to protect data, and leveraging cloud services to increase efficiency and scalability.
Furthermore, it encompasses integrating innovative technologies like AI and Machine Learning to glean actionable insights from data and drive decision-making. Thus, managed IT is now more about enabling business growth, promoting innovation, and fostering a competitive edge in the marketplace.
At Think Cloud, we strive to provide value and peace of mind, prioritising quality over being the cheapest option. Our goal is to ensure that our products and services perform as intended. We continuously embrace cutting-edge technology, avoiding outdated solutions. Our commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction sets us apart in the industry.
Being early adopters of managed IT services, we have paved the way for others in the region. Unlike the traditional break-fix approach, we offer proactive and comprehensive solutions tailored to individual customer needs.
#5 Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast
Initially, everyone had multiple roles in the company, but Dean's greatest challenge has been transitioning away from wearing multiple hats. The key is delineating responsibilities and focusing on tasks that align with one's strengths and expertise. Paul concurs, particularly when viewed from an external perspective. He has had a unique opportunity to observe the evolution of the team's leadership skills within the business over the years, noting how they have transformed and flourished and how their individual leadership approaches have influenced the company culture of the business while balancing and maintaining the culture and fostering growth within it.
Dean's leadership style has always been about the people, whereas Scott and Leon have always set the vision and culture of the company. Dean affirms that embracing and communicating with staff and forming meaningful connections with people, and appreciating their contributions to the business has enabled them to create a quality-driven service culture rather than a purely profit-driven one, which has helped cement relationships with not only their employees but also clients and partners over the years.
Recruitment has evolved also. Instead of solely focusing on skills, we now prioritise aligning with our vision and company culture. This shift has proven to be immensely beneficial as we attract and hire individuals who are the right fit. Our culture shapes how we work, and if someone doesn't align with it, we have no hesitation in choosing another candidate.
Moreover, it's important to note that previous assumptions about qualifications and technical skills as the sole determinants of an employee's value have changed. We now understand that being a better worker is more than just about qualifications and technical expertise. It's about finding someone who can contribute more, alleviate workloads, and enhance the overall team dynamic.
Leon explains how a game changer was using psychometric testing (and we tried a lot of different ones!), but the Giant Framework and doing the 100 X stand out the most. We now know who our staff are and what motivates them. This has enabled us to understand the team better, how they work together, and how to get the best out of everyone because, ultimately, it is all about the people.
What is it like to work at Think Cloud?
The people, the staff, and the employees make Think Cloud a great place to work. Our culture is essential to us; we want everyone to feel like they can be part of the team and take ownership of our success. Everyone is encouraged to think big, be bold, and take risks without fear of failure. We have created an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation.
We are more than just colleagues; we are like a family. We have each other's backs, and this level of support is something you typically find only if you invest in your culture and people. Moreover, we strongly emphasise mental health and well-being, prioritising the holistic wellness of our team members.
At Think Cloud, we appreciate the many talents and perspectives our employees bring to the table. We recognise that creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued is essential for success.
Looking Ahead: The Future of Managed IT and Think Cloud
At Think Cloud, we are committed to staying one step ahead. We understand that future success depends on our ability to adapt quickly and leverage emerging technology.
AI has already become an integral part of the business landscape and is rapidly advancing. We expect that more organisations will adopt it to remain competitive. AI will be an integral tool for reading data and helping to make recommendations for improvement and changes that can be made, as well as making decisions quickly and autonomously. We are also seeing more use of AI in cyber security, helping to identify threats and respond quicker than ever. It's an exciting time for Managed IT services, and Think Cloud is looking forward to leading the way.
The new App Development division will continue to be an important part of Think Cloud, as more businesses now rely on IT applications to meet customer needs. In the future, these apps will become even more sophisticated, offer superior user experiences, and take a greater role in streamlining business functions and operations.
There will continue to be an emphasis on fostering workplace well-being. Technology should be utilised as a tool; while we are more connected than ever, we tragically experience loneliness due to a lack of meaningful connections. We aim to cultivate a mindset where technology supports rather than obstructs work, life, and relationships.
We are expanding our presence in the broader UK market, collaborating with exceptional partners, and continuing to introduce new services, including cyber security, App Development, enhncaced Wi-Fi & connectivity, and voice capabilities.
We anticipate a growing demand for better data utilisation and improved analytics for informed decision-making. Knowledge management and training systems will be essential for companies to create and share insights to move forward with actionable plans. Consultancy and the development of digital platforms will continue to be a significant area of emphasis.
These are just a few of the trends that Think Cloud is keeping an eye on, and we look forward to being at the forefront of these developments over the coming years!
Embracing the Future: The Next 20 Years at Think Cloud
Over the last two decades, Think Cloud has established a strong foundation for success. With innovation and agility at our core! We are passionate about what we do and look forward to continuing to provide our clients with quality services for the next 20 years!
This anniversary stands as a testament to our dedicated team of innovators, who relentlessly push the boundaries of what is possible, and our loyal clients, who have been an integral part of our journey. We are proud of our contributions to the tech industry. We are grateful for the opportunity to shape the future of Managed IT, Proactive Cyber Security, comprehensive business, and end-user support.
We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to everyone who has been part of this extraordinary journey. Your unwavering support and trust in our vision have made these achievements possible. Here's to looking back at our accomplishments, celebrating our present successes, and stepping into the future with an unwavering commitment to innovation and excellence.
Happy 20th Anniversary to us all at Think Cloud! Here's to many more years of pioneering, transforming, and leading the way, working smarter, faster, and better together!
Sponsored by: Talk suicide
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Tagged as: The Hack Podcast
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