vBridge was already in growth mode when it opened its doors two years ago, providing infrastructure services for small businesses in the Christchurch area.
Then the big temblor struck
“We formed before the earthquakes and built on a model that provided scale on demand for SMBs,” says Hamish Roy, who founded vBridge with partner John Ward. “It just happened to be timing, I guess. At the time of the quakes we did feel there were two ways to look at it: are you benefitting from other people’s misery? Or, in fact are you able to get your customers business up and running. I guess we had to look at it in that light, that we got really busy, and we were able to get customers up and running faster than they could achieve themselves.”
vBridge contends that the company brings a combined 24 years of experience to the business. Both Roy and Ward have years of experience in IT infrastructure engineering and business analysis, working for the likes of Kiwibank, Gen-i, and Fujitsu.
They started vBridge with the aim of bringing enterprise-level infrastructure within the price range of smaller organisations.
“We didn’t hit the market looking at pricing,” Roy says. “We built a model that would sustain and leverage enterprise solutions at a price point that didn’t just suit enterprise business. The two years we’ve operated, we’ve seen pricing decrease everywhere, but the start of vBridge allowed us to be cost competitive at the start. We offer enterprise features, everything the larger competitors can do, at a price that’s more accessible to the SMBs.
The company has experienced 1,100 percent growth, year-over-year, with 100 percent uptime. The growth is attributed to both demand for low cost services and a change in mentality among SMBs about the need to secure their infrastructure, after the lessons of the thousands quakes the region experienced from 2011 to this year.
“There was reactive growth,” Roy says. “There’s been proactive growth of people looking at the current risk positions and the cost after the quakes. IaaS is making sense for them.”
vBridge today employs a staff of five. The organisation uses HP Converged Storage hosted in a third-party datacentre. Roy says choice of vendors was integral to the company’s business model.
“The HP suite allowed us to scale very quickly in terms of delivery of product integration in the platform and the just in time of scalability,” he says.
In addition to HP, vBridge also works with VMware, Microsoft, Trend Micro for security and Veeam for backup and replication. Roy says the HP relationship was particularly helpful.
“They made sure we had the tools to get the business going and the sales support has been great,” he says. “Ideally they want us to buy more stuff.”
Roy says the drive for demand among vBridge customers is the desire for data security and backups, and for flexibility in licensing. Roy didn’t say how many customers the company serves.
“We want to be good,” he says. “Big isn’t a big issue for us right now. The moment we get big, other things start to happen to complicate everything.”
For Roy, making the transition from a technology role to a technology sales role has been a learning curve.
“Oh yes, my word,” he jokes. “It has been a great learning experience. I enjoy being out in front of customers and understanding the challenges they’re trying to overcome and having the technology background to understand the challenge and to roll up a solution.
“Sometimes at the end of sale you have to get a bit tough to close a deal,” he adds. “That doesn’t come naturally to us. We have a collaborative sales approach, and that might sound like hype, but that’s how we do it. We ID outcomes that we want to get to meet their exact requirements, and that doesn’t fall into the hard-sell category does it.”