Three years of Iridium... and counting
Posted on 1st February 2021 at 11:53
As Iridium celebrates its third birthday, co-founder, Ben Dainton reflects on the past three years, what he’s learnt, how things have changed, and the challenges he and fellow founder, Sinclair Elliott, have faced. Plus he answers the burning question - why is the company called Iridium?
Over to Ben…
“Just over three years ago, my friend and business partner, Sinclair Elliott, and I had the brainwave of setting-up a hybrid consultancy. We wanted to do something completely new that revamped the outdated consultancy model, that offered value and speed to riva any contract recruitment, but with the bespoke service levels of a leading consultancy delivering a consistent high-quality output.
Having worked in the IT industry for 40 years combined, we could both see things could be done better. Many consultancies were expensive and not necessarily offering good value. At the other end, recruitment was unable to deliver the high levels of service clients needed. Enter Iridium…
We decided on the name Iridium due to the fact it's a rare element - like us. We liked that it’s a ‘transition’ metal and we were going to help companies transition and transform from one state to a better one. We also liked the fact that we could shorten it to its chemical name, IR77, and use that for our web and email addresses – as it’s quick to type and easy to remember.
Our ambition was to become the preferred consultancy in the cards, transformation and security space. In achieving this, we aimed to grow year on year, bringing more people onboard internally to grow the business, and grow our clients based upon our success stories.
Essentially, our goal was to be recognised in the industry as a new turnkey IT consultancy. With delivery success and high levels of customer service at the core of everything we do. I’d say we were on track with this.
In the early days, we were home-based or working on site. With a, frankly, impressive portfolio of clients; Transunion, Yorkshire Building Society and NewDay.
With TransUnion, we embarked on a portfolio assessment. Followed by large transformation and subsequent integration following an acquisition of call credit – we still have 10 consultants onsite today, three years on.
YBS asked us to provide information security support to a large digital transformation programme. Along with assuring from a security perspective on projects – again, we still have a team onsite today.
We supported Newday with cards specialists and an outsourced SRE team. We also help to implement Agile. As a testament to our high standards, we also support this client to this day with consultants across cards and transformation.
When we launched, we did have concerns about how we’d be perceived. And whether or not clients and associates would embrace our vision. Was there room for a consultancy like ours in the market, and could fusing true consultancy with agility and lower cost actually work?
We realised things were going well within the first month. We were receiving superb feedback from clients and associates, loads of leads and referrals, and all this with just the two of us, with no website or office base at this stage.
Around the time our client base began to expand, we brought in Matt Pickin. As a PMO as part of our transformation and integration team for our client TransUnion. With his strong attention to detail and determination to get the job done, we quickly realised that Matt would be a fantastic permanent acquisition for the Iridium internal team. He now does a fantastic job as our Head of Operations.
We are proud of our strong network of trusted associates. Who we rely on to help deliver the Iridium promise. The specialists we have worked with from the very beginning, who we’d like to thank for their commitment, skill and loyalty are (in no particular order); Dylan Roberts, Matt Rowe, John Shapton, Darren Low, Vishnu Yeduru, James Miller, Andy Cochrane, Dale Green, Sunita moore, Andy Ward, Will Walton, Paul Schriever, James Franklin and Richard Hand.
One of the biggest surprises for Sinclair and myself is the speed at which we have exponentially grown. It is also incredibly hard work, which none of us are scared of, but it really does consume every part of our energy and head space. The fantastic feedback from our clients and our associates makes it all worthwhile.
Along with COVID, IR35 has been a challenge, and still is. We are working closely with clients and associates to reassure them that the transition will be as easy as possible when the changes occur in April. We’ve got it all in hand.
We have learnt to stick to our guns and believe in what we stand for. Also to have the confidence to invest in people and feel comfortable about handing responsibility over to the team.
Over the past three years we have had so many momentous moments. Here are just a few highlights…Moving into our office on The Headrow in Leeds, growing our internal team to eight people, and hitting 70 consultants working for us across our client programmes. Growing year-on-year, successfully completing large credit card migrations and Matt joining us. Offering an entire outcomes based squad as a managed service to a leading banking client of ours, and working with our new global consultancy partner to deliver this.
We feel a remarkable sense of pride in what we’ve achieved. Not needing any help in setting up and being able to pay our contractors from day one without using invoice finance or bank loans and overdrafts…
One of the things I’m most happy about is that we’re able to have fun, even though we are so busy, with no falling out or (hardly any) cross words.
Whatever curve balls have been thrown at us, BREXIT, COVID, IR35, we’ve realised that work is not going away. So even with IR35 being brought in, our clients still need to undertake change, and we can help them - even if we have to adapt to suit the changes in the market. That’s the beauty of being a compact, agile team.
Being adaptable and flexible, at speed, is something we pride ourselves on. We work with clients to find solutions to their problems – it is simple, but exactly what we are about.
If I was to offer advice to any new business starting out today. I’d say believe in what you do, build a strong team around you, then go for it. You won't know unless you give it a try. Good upfront planning and regular checkpoints with your business partner and team are essential, and make sure you communicate about everything - including bugbears.
In the next three years we intend to grow. We are currently at eight people, and it would be great to build on that and get to a team of 20, with 30 plus clients and a team of 200 consultants. We have also secured a number of engagements where we have utilised our partner, Doxa, in the cards space, as part of a true consultancy service offering. We plan to be entirely services based, providing industry leading teams to deliver solutions to our clients’ problems with our security, cloud, cards, architecture, dev, transformation and test practices.”
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