Comms Business Magazine talks to Channel Live exhibitor Nick Goodenough, Partner Service Director at Spitfire, as the company marks 30 years of continued success in an ever-changing market to find out the key events in their history and what is next on their horizon.
Nick Goodenough began working at Spitfire in 1997 when the firm was located in an old Victorian terraced house in London.
“I had a desk facing the wall in a corridor and a phone. I soon had an email account but no idea what to do with it. Everyone smoked in the office except me and when I went home in the evening my flat mates thought I’d spent the day in a pub. But it was a fun time that got a lot better a few years later when we moved in to an industrial unit in Vauxhall where smoking was banned.
One of the reason we moved was that at the time we had around 25 filed engineers in Fiesta vans running around London installing SDX and Panasonic phone systems, installing cable and screwing things to the wall. It was old school engineering and an activity that is almost redundant today.”
The period from 1999 to 2001 was significant for Spitfire as they first became a switchless reseller, then as ISP selling broadband and began their own voice network.
“It was the start of convergence of voice and data but not beyond the confines of the LAN. As the market evolved with the price of ISDN versus say SDSL and leased lines morphing in to Ethernet in 2006 we launched our SIP trunk service and the next year a hosted PBX offering.
We were providing voice and data over the same circuits and no longer needed engineers in vans; instead they were in the office tapping away on computers configuring networks and telephony functionality for users.
Spitfire had always had a London focus but through our growing partner network we were addressing a national base of customers.
Our channel business had started in November 2001 when we signed our first partner. The operation, which consisted of myself, a phone and Yellow Pages, involved me looking up IT and support companies and giving them a call. The proposition was simple, ‘How were they connecting their users to the internet?’
I’s pleased to report that Norther Star, that first channel partner is still with us along with two other partners out of the first five we signed. Sadly, the other two firms are alas no more.
From there we contacted voice based resellers that wanted to move in to IT; wanted to know more about the internet, networking and multi-site connectivity.
Our focus was, and still is, on training (ourselves and our partners) with courses, guidance and on site with their customers.
In 2008 we launched our Hosted PBX as SIP Communicator, simultaneous with our SIP trunks and running over our own network. Of course we also sell third party products but our focus remains on designing our own solutions as it gives the ability to control the user experience and more recently in 2016 we launched our own cloud version of 3CX featuring cloud based recording and reporting.
There remain firms with very simple requirements still using old PBX systems and for that replacement market we have our own zero CAPEX hosted solution.
Today it would be fair to say that users want a lot more functionality for less cost which is why we have continued to invest in our own network and data centre – a resilient ring with four data nodes that enable direct and easy connection for user solutions such as AWS and 365.
The Spitfire management team have all been here a long time and the key to our success is constantly reinventing the business and moving it forward. It’s exciting.
Every year we have grown the business, it’s all been organic based on user recommendations, loyalty and long term relationships; keeping good people, partners and suppliers.
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