When asked why I started dbfb, my response was ‘to be a millionaire and be on a constant cruise’… isn’t that why everyone starts a business? All jokes aside, I have always been entrepreneurial. From working in the entertainment industry, starting a mail order business to owning a dozen retail stores – the list goes on. But, in 1986, is when it really began. I was running a high-performance garage (Elite Motor Tune) and a lady came in with a BMW that needed a service and asked me to fit a ‘cellular’ phone. Even though they were in fashion at the time – “a what?” I replied. From there, my passion started with supplying mobile phones. At Elite Motor Tune, we became the only provider in Northampton fitting mobile phones in cars and had to overcome the constant statement from prospective customers “What on earth do I want a mobile telephone in my vehicle for, it will never catch on.” I replied, “I don’t think it will be long before we are carrying these things in our pockets”. “Rubbish” they said.
I left the business for a while and went back to my entertainment roots. I had been a DJ from 1968 to 1982, setting up and running Glenvilles at Billing Garden Centre – a function suite which many of the more mature folk of Northampton may remember. After heart surgery in 1993 and wondering what to do with myself, a distributor of mobile phones suggested doing mobile mail order. Before long I was supplying over 150 phones a month all from my bedroom in Northampton.
Then, with my life-long friend Bill Oliver, we set up an office in Moulton Park, which became quickly successful, but due to recession we had to downsize to an area in the building under the stairs which I dubbed “the Harry Potter days”. Again, we grew and had the idea of creating a business database, to send text messages, so businesses could communicate and respond to customers quicker. This would save time and enable them to focus on other important areas of their business. There was a concern about this from employees – that this would take over jobs – a technology stigma!
In 1998, from our communications business, and the texting idea ‘database for business’ (dbfb) was born. This was during yet another mobile phone boom, and we evolved. While we sold technology, our customer-centric, people-led approach meant we would always go the extra mile. Out of hours – or even when I was on holiday, (2am in Spain, thanks Ray of RML), it didn’t matter – we resolved the issue. I was passionate about not letting our service slip! This mantra continues today, we hire good people – who care about the service we provide, that will always continue no matter how much we grow. It’s what differentiates us in the market.
That leads me on to Growth. Over the past 20 years we have grown significantly and much of this is down to hiring the right people. Individuals can’t be masters of all the services we provide, and we don’t expect them to be. Instead, we hire specialists in mobile, hosted telephony, connectivity, cyber security, and IT support – making us the experts to help your business achieve its technology goals.
The last 5 years, however, have supercharged our business! We have seen significant growth and that’s due to growing our leadership team. By hiring a leadership team who specialise in different areas including marketing, and commercials, we a have a strong, strategic business plan, to keep us ahead of the market.
Our portfolio has also grown now we’ve added VOIP, IT support, connectivity and more. Our partnership with CityFibre 5 years ago has only strengthened our connectivity position in both Northampton and Milton Keynes. We now have over 1,000 customers around the UK.
While I mention product, again, it’s our service that differentiates us. Our approach is about listening to your needs and creating the perfect solution for you. We ensure that service is delivered to a high standard by acting as your technology partner unifying communications. We give you what large network providers can’t – bespoke solutions, expert advice and a support team that resolves issues quickly.
Our business continues to grow within the UK. Our business plan forecasts that we will be turning over £15 million per year, within the next three years. While this is exciting, what’s really important to me is that we continue to lead with proper service, support our community and take care of people and customers. I know we can do it.