60 second start-up: Cloud Net

What's the business model?

Our business is based on high volume, low margin sales. We keep our overheads down by harnessing the power of online marketing and SEO. By educating small businesses about Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) and listening to what they want, we're able to grow our customer base month on month and gain new business via referrals and recommendations.

Who are your competitors?

BT and Virgin are probably our biggest competitors. The majority of other hosted VoIP providers are reselling others' services and as a result can't offer the same low pricing we're able to.

What's your USP?

We are the only provider of truly plug and play business phone systems with no capital cost whatsoever - we give away everything, even the handsets!

How have you funded it so far?

The company is entirely funded with private investment from Hills plc.

What were you doing before?

Before Cloud Net, I was running a small business providing IT networking and web solutions to the SME market. In late 2008 we entered the telecoms market reselling fixed lines and broadband from BT Wholesale.

Where did the idea come from?

Existing VoIP solutions were complex and unfriendly, and aimed purely at IT professionals. We set out to develop a straightforward, low cost alternative, tailored for the small business.

What's the smartest thing you've done so far?

We have been fortunate enough to find some amazing people who are completely passionate about our business. The smartest thing we've done so far is realising our team holds the key to our future success, recognising their commitment and communicating this every step of the way.

What's the stupidest?

Initially, I tried to do almost everything myself: being the business instead of managing it. It sounds so obvious now, yet it's a trap which is all too easy to get into and very difficult to get out of. By handing off some of the hats I was wearing to others I'm now able to focus on moving the business forward, whilst freeing up valuable time outside of work. My family have thanked me for it!

If your business was a biscuit, what type would it be?

Garibaldi - unlike any other, and as such commands a unique position in the biscuit world!

Which idea are you a bit jealous of?

I must admit I'm rather jealous of Alex Tew's "million dollar homepage": selling advertising space by the pixel in 2005. Brilliant in its simplicity and a global phenomenon, it was one of those ideas that can only work once but when it does it goes with a bang.

Where are you going to be in 12 months time?

In 12 months time I would like to see Cloud Net well on its way to being one of the major players in the industry: recognised for innovative, market leading solutions and awesome customer service

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