This week, it’s our 15th birthday! To celebrate we got David Cairns, our founder and technical director, to talk about the milestone. From working out of a kitchen to all over the world; to winning the company’s first client and learning to not do things on the cheap, David walks us through the past and present of Speedster - and takes a crack at what the future might hold.
Congratulations on 15 years of Speedster IT! How did the business get started - what was your first office like?
In the beginning, I was running the company from my home. To be even more specific, my kitchen.
Who was the first client you won?
They were a big travel guidance company. I’d worked for them sometime before getting Speedster up and running. Their IT manager had a massive amount of confidence in me and let us do some managed hosting for their business line applications.
Similarly, what was the first major project you successfully completed?
We did a move of the (travel guidance company’s) servers to a data centre and made virtual private network (VPN) tunnels for them. I had a good time working with them before, so it felt good to be managing and supporting them again.
Everyone has setbacks. What was your first one, and how did you overcome it?
One of our biggest clients got bought out and taken over. So we had to replace them with someone else, which we managed to pull off in just a few months.
How have the challenges in IT support changed over the last 15 years?
IT support is a very different animal now. 15 years ago we spent hours waiting for servers to reboot and ran backups to tapes. Now everything is done and expected instantly, 24/7.
You’ve worked in a few different countries now. How does working internationally differ from working in the UK?
There’s not that much of a difference in terms of how the technical work is done. That’s basically the same wherever you go. What I have realised though is that knowledge about the internet and IT services can vary from place to place. So spending a good amount of time researching where you’re going is really important.
What’s been your proudest achievement to date?
When the company’s sales rose above £1 million. That’s when I thought ‘I must be doing something right!’ Since then, they’ve risen to £5 million which I’m even more proud of.
How do you think IT will change over the next 15 years?
I’m sure we’re going to see another major shift in IT. I think first line IT services could become less in demand as companies develop products that make them more stable and easier to use. I think the need for cyber security is going to rise a lot in the next 5 years, as more and more businesses find themselves on hackers’ target lists.
If you could go back in time, to the day Speedster began, what advice would you give yourself?
Never, ever try and patch a problem with the cheapest solution. The cheapest is very rarely the best thing to do. Even if the client has a low budget, they need to realise that they won’t necessarily get a lot of value for their money. I’d tell myself that it’s important to let the client know that.
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