With nearly two years under his belt in the top job, rhipe’s Dominic O’Hanlon sat down with ARN Associate Editor, Jennifer O'Brien, to talk about the journey so far.
And what a time it has been, including the challenging and rewarding task of rebranding the company from NewLease to rhipe, opening new offices in new geographies, entering new markets, signing new vendors, building the executive team, and rolling out organisational values.
The company also signed with the CSP program in five countries in the region and, most recently, struck a partnership with IBM around SoftLayer.
There is little doubt, rhipe is on a major growth spurt, seeing 46 per cent growth year-over-year and hiring 100 new staff over the last year alone.
O’Hanlon said the past year had been particularly rewarding in that the company was able to determine and hone its value proposition, and take its strategic message to market.
Jennifer O’Brien: Can you recap your first 18 months as CEO?
Dominic O’Hanlon: It has been very interesting. This is my first role in distribution. Prior to this I was an entrepreneur in a number of different tech companies before joining NewLease at the time after Doug passed away which was a very hard time for the business.
The goal then was to steady the ship, but, at the same time, look at what we could be doing to continue the growth of the business.
If you look at the history of our business it has always been a business to deliver software on a subscription basis to its customers.
If you went back into the history of NewLease, you’d find the business was always seen as an outsider in the distribution industry, doing something a bit off that didn’t quite fit. And over the past year, the world has woken up to just how important it is to have a business that is focused on driving subscription revenues.
What was involved with the rebranding of the company to rhipe?
It has been very well received by our vendors and partners. It was a chance for us to say, ‘we are growing the business into new markets and new opportunities’.
If you look at where we’ve come over that year – we started effectively as a company that provided subscription licensing for hosters, let’s call it private Cloud, and within that 12-month period, in addition to rebranding the business and opening in other geographies and signing new vendors, we now can offer public Cloud, Private Cloud and hybrid Cloud licensing and solutions and services and support, and infrastructure to our customers.
So it has been a journey from being a private Cloud licensing to public, private and hybrid Cloud with all of those different facets to the business.
What are some of your biggest achievements in the role?
The first big achievement was to lock down the strategy. I sat down with the executive team and said ‘where are we and who are we and why are we unique in the marketplace.
What is our differentiated value proposition? What came from that was a pretty clear realisation amongst the team that what has made the business unique over the years has been to become the trusted advisor to the service provider community.
What makes us unique is that we are channel focused and we are Cloud first. So we rebranded the business to the Cloud channel business to convey the message that we are focused on the channel first and foremost and secondly that we are a subscription business and if you don’t want to use the product, you don’t pay for it.
That is our DNA. Having that new strategy locked down, as rhipe the channel Cloud company, we could then look at all of the different vendors that were coming to us and determine which ones really fit and which of those products are subscription focused and which ones are focused on adding value to the channel as a wholesaler and an aggregator in that channel.
The second major achievement after locking down that strategy was determining the organisational structure. This involved determining how the executives were all aligned.
Are they global roles? Are they regional roles? We recruited a lot of people. We brought in a new chief financial officer, a new chief marketing officer, a new chief strategy officer, and promoted a chief commercial officer role.
We organised our executive leadership team (ELT) and our business leadership team (BLT) so everybody knows what role they play in helping us to deliver against our core strategic initiative.
What has been the hardest part of being in the role?
I have run a lot of businesses in my years. It is much, much harder to run a business that is growing than to run one that is declining.
And people will tend to look at businesses that are in trouble and say, ‘this is really challenging.’ It is about cost management. As a business is in decline, you spend a lot of your time just focusing on keeping costs down.
It is not pleasant, but it is not hard. In a growth business, there’s euphoria around the brand and what the company is doing, and everybody wants to get on the train. And that is difficult because the train is full.
You either have to keep adding carriages and then the engine is not strong enough. You get to a point where you start to look at how a chain is as strong as its weakest link.