Bluefish Communications Ltd

Origins

Bluefish started in 2004 with 3 people, £30,000 and a clear belief, having worked for some time in the sector, that there was a better way - and that the company could make money! Bluefish has grown to £8.2m revenues in 2009 and maintained gross margins at 35%. The three founders worked for an American consultancy with a "hire and fire" business that directly employed 100% of consultants and supported high in house overheads. They decided that there was a better way and developed a more flexible business model that focuses on the core of the business i.e. Sales and Consultants; outsources all non core activities to others; directly employs 40-50% of billing consultants to give the flexibility to scale up or down without "hiring and firing"; and works with an associate partner base where the firm could call on independent consultants with specific technical skills to augment people.

Our main challenges when starting the business

To gain credibility with major customers and sell services i.e. a very small business trying to appear large. The founders knew that they would be a larger company eventually and set about putting in "corporate" processes including gaining ISO 2001 quality management accreditation within a year of formation. The final challenge was to grow quickly which always requires cash. Fortunately RBS in Cardiff were able to help with banking facilities and invoice financing – the company remains their customer after six years.

Success Factor

The three main factors contributing to Bluefish’s growth are as follows. The business was formed by the three founders who still retain 100% ownership, and each had significant prior experience in the sector; the business was set up to scale rapidly whilst complying with large company controls and governance, and actions included focusing on the core areas of Sales and delivery and outsourcing all other activities. Finally, the company has built up a deep understanding of its clients’ needs and then creates great teams of technical and project leadership staff to solve customers’ problems, delivering to time and budget. Today, the company still has the same ambition, motivation and drive as it did when it started with the added advantage of a recognised industry brand.

The Future

Bluefish’ vision is to be recognised by clients as a provider of exemplary service and thought leaders in the provision of technical professional services. The company aims to build a £25m programme leadership, outsourcing and consulting business through deepening its relationships with existing clients, increasing long run repeatable revenues and by developing new clients in the UK and internationally. Whilst the current focus is on organic growth, it will continue to assess strategic acquisitions especially in overseas markets whilst recruiting great sales people in the UK and Australia/Asia Pacific in order to continue to develop geographic diversification.