By Robert Sturt, The Network Union founder
The Network Union is an authorized BT (British Telecom) business partner. Our intent is to disrupt the way in which organizations procure global WAN (Wide Area Network) connectivity by aligning the specifics of a business versus the BT global product capability.
We have taken years of experience working for and with large service providers and distilled this knowledge into a step-by-step workflow, which examines technical, strategy, and budget. The result is a simplified approach which allows IT managers to navigate the MPLS or VPLS buying process using step-by-step alignment. A great deal of our success is the result of the partnership with British Telecom. We provide the focus which is associated with a boutique business, alongside the full support and technical backup of the global giant which is BT.
Our focus has always been on the medium-to-enterprise marketplace with the key audience being IT managers, IT directors, CTOs and of course the FD from a budget perspective.
We continue to build on our connectivity expertise by bringing products such as Microsoft Office 365 into our service mix due to the high demand from our customer base.
In 2014 we have won two BT Business Awards—one for our unique approach to sharing our sales process with clients and prospects using an A2 Mindmap. We expect to continue building on our success and have plans to expand into the BT Americas marketplace.
As the founder, I had previously worked for large service providers where it was impossible to achieve a real, focused procurement approach without breaking process. The large telcos certainly possessed the ability to service their customers, but expectations were always poorly set and no repeatable design and proposal process existed. This experience formed The Network Union.
In terms of my own entrepreneurial experience, I’ve always enjoyed the business process—creating something out of an idea based on solving problems. I have always maintained the thought process that a new idea doesn’t always have to be something which is built from the ground-up. The effects of taking an existing product or service and refreshing the approach to market is just as powerful.
We keep marketing broad. If we’re honest, social media is not our strong point, with our focus revolving around inbound web marketing in the main and referral-based networking. We continue to learn and in 2014 are keeping focus on ensuring we maintain activity on specific areas. It clearly takes time to build up a web presence in a competitive space, consistent content production and activity is required on a weekly basis to maintain momentum. We also write content for authoritative sites such as TechTarget, an example article on MPLS is available for readers to take a look at.
The market for connectivity is substantial but competitive. Clearly the lower-end space, which is occupied by business broadband, lines, and call minutes is larger than the opportunity to work with global organizations. This being said, large-scale WAN connectivity attracts monthly recurring revenues and large order value. We tend to work on approximately five opportunities per year, which we intend to grow by 50 percent year-on-year. Competitors to Network Union are consultancy-based organizations offering procurement services, but we occupy a subtly different space with our relationship with BT.
DIFFERENTIATORS VS. COMPETITION
Our differentiation surrounds process from the perspective of both our own approach to WAN procurement and the way in which we share our actual workflows with clients. In this respect we are fairly unique within our space since we are effectively sharing our entire process before the client actually engages TNU. Even if a client decides not to work with us, they have gained valuable data.
We earn our revenue from our contract with BT, which means we do not have to charge our end clients for work. The money earned from BT is on an agency basis and is not in any way tied to the customers’ commercials. In this way, clients are enjoying a consultative professional services approach without the typical associated costs. Our plans are to create a professional service product set for clients which require other services such as onsite audits or training.
Investing is something we would certainly be interested in discussing. To date, Network Union has self-funded, which we know has resulted in less growth; the positive being that any investor will see prior success, thus reducing risk.
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HEADQUARTERS: London and New York City
FOUNDER: Robert Sturt
YEAR FOUNDED: 2009