5 minutes with… Pete Watson, CEO of Atlas Cloud
We caught up with Atlas Cloud CEO, Pete Watson
1. Tell us a little about Atlas Cloud
We provide a range of Managed Services such as Hosted Desktops and cloud-based services, mainly with SME businesses. We are passionate about letting business owners focus on building their business and strategy without being distracted and concerned about IT; they can leave it to us and focus on growth.
All of our services are scalable and flexible. Our agile business model and technical expertise enable us to deliver quickly as to their business and industry demands. We pride ourselves on high quality support, services, and being innovative with new solutions. Therefore, our customers can take advantage of new technology that drives productivity, security and compliance around areas such as GDPR without using a huge amount of budget.
2. How do you see the future for your business? Where will the next 5 years take you?
Most of our customers are North East based, but we do work in other parts of the UK too, including the South East, Yorkshire and the North West. We have grown by over 100% in the last 12 months and we’re hoping to continue on this path and expand our expertise. We will be focusing on our core business solutions and our partnerships, with the likes of Microsoft, Citrix and Sage as we are the cloud partner for the UK and Ireland.
3. What would be your top tip for someone setting up their own business?
My advice would be specifically to owners of fast growing companies who are looking to raise finance. I’d say ‘give yourself more time to execute’. Having been in the position of raising finance, I would recommend giving yourself 18+ months runway to actually take the cash in to your business and execute your plans. It’s difficult trying to grow the business if you’re constantly raising money. Things always take longer than your best guess.
4. What do you think are the biggest challenges for fast growing businesses?
It’s definitely people and culture. Getting the right people at the outset is a challenge for all businesses, but keeping those people as you grow (especially if it’s fast paced growth) has to be the top priority. You want people that you have good working chemistry with. People are the heartbeat of the organisation. You need to maintain the ‘small business, innovative culture’ that they joined you for, even as your business scales up and changes. You want to be the employer of choice, in fact, you have to be the employer of choice to get the right people in your business.
It’s easier said than done. For us, we try not to be a ‘stereotypical IT firm’. We like to do things differently. We give our team members the scope to be creative and entrepreneurial, to make sure they always know how they fit in the business, how valued they are and how they can help the business succeed and also meet their own ambitions. We offer unlimited holidays, regular incentives and our team can wear whatever they want to work. We find this builds great teamwork and people work as many hours as it takes to get the job done when things are a little more flexible. They don’t even need to come in to the office if they don’t have to, but the work is always done and our team are always finding new and better ways to work together.
I guess my last bit of advice would be to harness the talent and energy of all generations. I think there is a fair bit of stigma around the flexible working preference of millennials. I find that their enthusiasm and talent is great for business, especially one like ours where they already understand what we do and why it’s important to business growth. Be a little flexible and be the employer they choose to grow with.
5. If you could be anything or could have had any job – what would it be?
I’ve always wanted to build a business, be an entrepreneur and do something different. Even when I was at school, from around the age of 8. I used to get my mum to buy me toys at the Quayside market and then I’d sell them at school. 100% profit! This was maybe not quite business reality, but it was a fun start.
I love the industry I work in. Cloud IT services are growing at a rate of over 20% a year and the managed service market is forecast to grow by 26%. It’s a great environment to stay creative and innovative, which is what I enjoy.