Develops transformative technology, driving tangible outcomes
Name: Bethan Vincent
Position in the company: Marketing Director
Years with the company: 1.5
Number of employees: 50+
Yearly revenue: £ 2m+ (2019)
What was the most challenging experience since you started in 2012 and how did you overcome it?
Access to talent is both our biggest challenge and competitive advantage.
This is why we decided to move from Scarborough to York in 2014, as it opened up a much wider talent pool and transport links across the UK and globally.
Alongside attracting new expertise, we also significantly invest in the training and development of our existing staff. We have continuous programmes of improvement for our team, who work on emerging technologies such as AR/VR and blockchain. We also run graduate training programmes and facilitate work placements to bring the next generation of talent to Netsells and beyond.
The company’s profits increased by 217% from 2017 to 2019 – which successful strategies did you manage to implement to achieve this objective?
Our strategy has focused on positioning ourselves as a long-term supplier of development services for organisations who either want to extend external development teams and add capacity, or do not have the technical expertise to manage their own development stack. Unlike other firms who use and deliver off the shelf technologies on a project-by-project basis, our team seeks to form enduring partnerships and develop bespoke solutions that fit a client's exact needs.
Technology is only part of our success story. Alongside providing pure technical services we also have built a deep understanding of commercial realities. We don’t want to build solutions for the sake of building - anything we develop has to add real value to an organisation’s balance sheet. There needs to be a clear business case.
We have also consulted with some of the world’s largest organisations, which gives us a unique insight into challenges and opportunities across multiple industries. This breadth of experience is also highly prized by our clients.
Which new technologies or platforms are you currently investing in and why?
To support our technology development services, we are always looking at expanding our knowledge of new and innovative technologies and processes and are constantly learning about and using technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and blockchain.
In 2018/19 we also began work on a number of internal projects using Flutter, Google’s brand new cross platform software development kit.
Our developers have taken this one step further through building their own server-side rendering framework powered by Flutter, currently called Cocoon.
Cocoon represents a serious innovation as it provides a way of defining mobile apps using JSON and allows developers to make server-side changes to live mobile applications (currently not possible without packaging a new release). This could have dramatic ramifications for global mobile app development as not only would two native apps only require one code base to be written, they could both be updated live from this single code base. Currently developers have to write two different code bases for two versions of an app, one for iOS and one for Android and then release any changes in a new version of an app (which is why your phone often prompts you to upgrade your apps to the latest version).
Alongside Flutter, we have also adopted languages/frameworks such as React, Docker and Vue.Js.
Netsells has clients in over 30 countries, do you have a one sales strategy to fit all, or do you adopt different strategies per country/client? Could you please elaborate on this aspect?
Every client we work with has unique challenges and opportunities and every project is different.
From creating a ticketing system that processes hundreds of thousands of data records each day to developing a secure legal case management system, we love dealing with complexity.
Our sales process is therefore extremely consultative and every potential client is allocated a Lead Consultant who works with them to deeply understand their business model, competitive landscape and technology requirements.
This model is well suited to working globally as we assess local trends, needs and ecosystems by default.
If you were looking for partnerships, collaborations and/or joint ventures which companies or industries would you target?
Alongside Netsells main offering, we have also pioneered a unique investment model under Netsells Ventures.
Netsells Ventures actively seeks out opportunities to combine our deep technical knowledge with start-ups who require development resources to build and grow their technology offering. This is often structured as a "sweat equity" deal for mutual benefit of both parties.
This model has already seen us work collaboratively with some of the UK's most exciting start-ups, including Railguard, HealthPod and YourParkingSpace
We are extremely excited to further expand our Ventures partnerships and have already welcomed pitches from multiple exit founders, industry veterans and local university students. Over the next year we will be formalising this division of the business to ensure we develop robust processes, investment criteria and a package of support for our ventures. We are also keen to play our part in further developing York as a technology development and investment hub, with the aim of competing with Leeds and Manchester for the title of the North's tech destination.
Hatchly is a CMS (content management system) product. There are numerous CMS products out there, what makes your product better – are you able to measure its success? Can you please describe the importance of CMS in companies nowadays?
Building and maintaining our own CMS on top of established web technologies such as Laravel and Vue.Js ensures anything we build is always kept up to date with the latest features and patches. Security is also a huge concern to both us and our clients and this control ensures we can implement the best-in-class software security across all our client’s platforms.
It’s like owning the freehold as opposed to renting the ground, we are able to access and maintain our own foundations.
As the CMS generally forms the core of most platforms, it’s important to ensure that whatever you use is stable, well updated and performant.
What would Netsells need to further grow and how do you plan to achieve your targeted growth?
The next phase for Netsells is set to be an extremely exciting one. We are currently undergoing a company rebranding exercise with the view of setting the foundations which will see us becoming a global leader in professional services and technology support. This should be released in Q2 2020.
To achieve our growth plans we are also solidifying our deep industry expertise across a number of key verticals, including healthcare technology and financial services. This will involve making key hires and ramping up our existing staff training programmes.
Let’s talk about customer experience in this digitised world. What’s your take on that and how can Netsells play an active part?
Technology has to be designed with an intimate understanding of user needs and expectations.
We start every project with an in-depth Discovery phase which systematically develops a clear understanding of users.
Before investing in a line of code we clearly map the customer experience from a digital perspective, documenting every touchpoint and interaction. This ensures that we bake a customer-first perspective into every platform or product we develop.