Startup Spotlight: DevOpsGroup
Welcoming DevOpsGroup to FinTech Connect!
Twitter Handle: @devopsgroup
Management/Leadership team: James Smith, CEO & Co-founder
Founded: March 2013; Cardiff, Wales
Tell us about yourself: DevOpsGroup is a next-generation technology company. Our award-winning solutions unlock innovation for enterprise and scale-up organisations by making cloud, devops and agile adoption fast, secure and simple. We empower both enterprise and scale-up organisations to achieve more in the digital economy by modernising IT. Our experts simplify complex theory into practical solutions, equipping your internal teams with modern technology, working-practices and knowledge - enabling IT to exceed business expectations. Our expert engineers, coaches and consultants help you build and run modern cloud platforms to accelerate digital transformations and upskill your teams to create confident digital practitioners within your organisation. Our extensive knowledge of cloud and devops accelerates speed-to-market and increases customer relevance for organisations of all shapes and sizes. Simply put; we ensure technology delivers for organisations.
Why did you choose FinTech Connect?: We specifically work with FinTech and InsurTech scale-up organisations and so this is a fantastic opportunity to engage with our customers of the future, learn from the amazing speakers and interact with the many people attending the event, who have shaping the future of FinTech.
Do you have customers yet? If not, how far into your business lifecycle are you?
We’ve be humbled to work with many different companies over the last few years and have been fortunate enough to accelerate the IT modernisation journey for over 80 companies globally. We usually work with around 15-20 companies are year and have worked with amazing FinTech customers like Wealthify, PayU and WorldRemit
How have you funded your growth to date?
Until 2018 we had grown 100% organically, until BGF invested £3m of growth capital to help accelerate our expansion.
What's your 'origin story'?
Founded in 2013, by two technologists James Smith and Stephen Thair, DevOpsGroup was born with the belief that a real difference could be made to the way companies delivered IT services by putting people, process, and technology at the heart of digital transformation.
James and Stephen had spent over 20 years delivering Enterprise scale digital transformation for global blue-chip companies. They worked together launching Pizza Hut’s UK’s online business in 2009, delivering over £100m in revenues and later, on large scale cloud migrations for Aviva and the RAC.
James and Stephen always had belief that organisations should be able to rapidly get ideas into the hands of customers as quickly as possible, allowing them to acceleration return-on-investment and experiment to enhance customer experience. However, what they saw across the industry was a chronic underinvestment in technology and skills with many organisations treating IT as a cost-center and not a driver to the business strategy and goals.
With the emergence of DevOps, a holistic approach to software delivery that focused on helping development and operations team to work together to deliver better software, James and Stephen knew that a better way of working and utilising technology could be made available to organisations of all shape and sizes, allowing them to build the foundations to succeed with digital transformation at scale.
And so in 2013, James and Stephen decided to help the industry address this problem by forming a next-generation professional and managed services company. Established with a vision to build a world where people are better connected with technology to drive positive change, DevOpsGroup has grown to provide the expertise from over 100 engineers and consultants to global blue-chip enterprise and scale-up business.
In partnership with Amazon and Microsoft, DevOpsGroup delivers industry leading engineering solutions and through its academy DevOpsGroup is training hundreds of people each year, giving them modern skills which in turn is helping their organisations to thrive in the digital economy.
What hasn’t changed in six years of high growth is the true belief that people can be empowered by technology to do amazing things.
What is your advice to people seeking to kickstart their own business?
Focus on customer revenue not on finding investment. This was the best piece of advice I was given as co-founder and CEO of a business. The relentless focus to make sure you are working backwards from what your customers need is crucial. If a customer is willing to pay you for something you’ve created then you’ve won, because it’s likely that there are more customers out there also willing to pay you. It sounds so simple, but I’ve spoken to so many start-ups that have lost sight of the customer at such an early stage. Focusing on the customer, means you’ll have a great story to tell investors when you finally meet them and, in my experience, means you’re far more likely to walk away with your investment.
Who do you admire most as a business (in or outside of the start-up world)?
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What are your goals for the next 18 months?
The growth of DevOpsGroup has been incredible, and we are immensely proud to have been instrumental in the success of some of the UK’s fastest growing companies. Over the next 18 months we plan to continue our double-digit year-on-year growth and expand all three of our practice areas in consulting, engineering and training, in order to meet growing demand for our services. Our growth is fueled by our amazing teams of experts and our plans include scaling our teams into the hundreds and geographic expansion. We hire awesomely talented and experienced people and are also expanding our graduate and internship programmes through our academy, which is focused on upskilling the next generation of talent from universities and schools.
What is your greatest achievement as business thus far?
Our greatest achievements and celebrations are those that have seen our customers succeed. We recognise that our customers have ploughed vast amounts of time and money into creating amazing business models, products, services and customer experiences and to be part of making technology deliver for those customers is simply wonderful. We’ve seen ASOS scale their business significantly, Skyscanner deliver awesome customer experiences and more recently a 150-year-old traditional insurance company, behave like a Fintech and deliver new products to market in just nine months. But our greatest achievements come when we get the feedback from people who work with us. Those that are re-energised in their careers because of skills we’ve helped them learn or because of changes we’ve been a catalyst to. Comments such as “you’ve made it enjoyable for me to come to work again” means we’ve made a real difference to someone’s life and that we are fulfilling our vision as a company. It is this customer success that our teams feel are our greatest achievement.
Why should our community come and meet you at the show?
We love to have conversations because we always learn something new. We’d love to hear more amazing stories from the community on what’s being achieved, challenges that are being faced or just to shoot the s**t over a coffee. You’ll often here us talk about the five pillars of DevOps; Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement and Sharing – what’s referred to as the CALMS model. Sharing our stories and listening to others; collaborating and building communities is part of our organisational DNA and we thrive on any opportunity that allows us to do it.
Find out more about the Startup LaunchPad at FinTech Connect, 3–4 December at ExCeL, London