Last year, MVF topped the Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100. Here, CEO and co-founder Titus Sharpe talks us through how his company grew from five friends working in a basement to being named the fastest growing tech company in the UK, and MVF’s plans to expand abroad.
MVF’s history is impressive. Five years ago it was but an idea, now it is recognized in the 2013 Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 as the fastest growing tech company in the UK.
The success has continued. 2014 also saw the business scoop a Queen’s Award for Enterprise and reach 41st in the Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For.
For the five friends who started MVF cooped up in a basement this has been quite the journey.
Winning Tech Track was one of the most career-defining moments I have had. There was a phenomenal sense of success that permeated through the team and it confirmed our inner belief that MVF can continue on its amazing growth trajectory.
One of the most immediate repercussions was the amount of new clients we have generated from winning the Tech Track. There has been a great deal of interest from the worldwide investment community, including US, UK and European investors. The atmosphere within the company has been phenomenal and it has really helped with recruitment and retention within the UK tech and digital communities.
However, it took a lot of groundwork to achieve this accolade. The thing that immediately springs to mind is how important it is to have a strong management team.
We have people with amazing management skills here at MVF and they have been the key to our phenomenal growth. Without them MVF wouldn’t be here. MVF’s management capacity is constantly expanding as people get more experience and we hire more brilliant people.
Of course we had to make several key decisions that took MVF from an idea to its current position.
In a strange way, the legal parameters within which I sold my previous business helped set MVF’s course. I had some restrictive covenants that meant I wasn’t able to trade in the UK so had to trade overseas. This really determined MVF’s unique position as the leader in global customer acquisition.
With any business venture you’d expect there to be some ups and downs, but we have had a remarkably smooth journey so far. And I think this all goes back to having a great management team with a huge amount of experience to help eliminate risks.
The power of a dedicated and cohesive management team doesn’t stop there – they have also been one of the key driving forces behind MVF’s success.
They make the right growth and hiring decisions that allows us to continue growing our success and facing challenges.
Over the next 12 months we are planning overseas sales offices in the US and Asia. I have spoken to a wide variety of technology CEOs about the challenges they had to overcome when opening overseas offices.
Essentially when these are condensed they come to a few best practices, which I am happy to share with you:
- Send a senior member of your team out to the new office to set it up and establish the correct culture and strategy
- Hire local sales staff as they sell more effectively in their own market
- Ensure you get a local person you trust to sense check your potential hires as you can miss cultural references that indicate the trustworthiness and effectiveness of an individual.
- Ensure a critical mass of six people to establish an office culture and ensure resilience if a couple people leave.
- Try to ensure some office hour time zone overlap with your new office as communication will be fundamental to the success.
These are the principles within which we plan to open new offices. We are feeling confident about these overseas opportunities for MVF.
Ultimately if another SME wants to be placed in the Tech Track 100 I would advise they ensure they are in a large addressable market with a great product.
The digital and technology staffing markets are highly competitive. You must make sure your company culture stands out by being quirky and unique. You must be able attract top talent by creating a great company environment.
Titus Sharpe is the CEO and co-founder of MVF (www.mvfglobal.com) , the UK’s fastest growing tech company, and Sunday Times 41st Best Small Company to work for in the UK. MVF has many international marketplaces including MoveHub, Expert Market, The EcoExperts and Lasik Eyes (www.lasik-eyes.co.uk).
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