Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: 10 Years of Excellence With CEO Sohin Raithatha
To celebrate Redsquid’s 10th anniversary, we interviewed CEO Sohin Raithatha on where Redsquid started, what it takes to run a business and what ten years of the company means to him.
What position where you and Vince in when you founded Redsquid ten years ago?
It was a bank holiday weekend, I’d quit my job, gotten my final pay packet, and just purchased a new flat with a mortgage. I’d been working for a telecoms company, where I met Vince and I had about eight thousand pounds on a credit card to live on by the time we started Redsquid. We had three and a half months to make Redsquid successful in terms of cash flow or risked losing everything I owned. We had no money, no company, no real organisation at that point. I had to wait and hope we’d start to get our first customers on board. So that’s how the journey began, in Vince’s spare bedroom, just before the recession…
So that’s how much Redsquid really meant to you
Absolutely, I’d been working at other organisations. I was very well paid wherever I worked, but it was never enough. I had a passion to start something, so did Vince. We thought we could do better, it was our dream.
It’s about looking back at past success, past failures, but always moving forward.
So the main reason for starting Redsquid was…?
A lot of it was about the service elements. I’d worked at previous organisations where you’d go on a training course and you get a perception of what the customer wants, and it was very poor, you know? But there was only so much you can do as a sales person. So we thought, okay we’re going to start our own business, and made sure that we wouldn’t inflict that on our customers. So at that point, it was just making sure that you were better than the others, in terms of basic customer service levels.
How did you first meet Vince then? Can you remember what the meeting was like?
I met him twelve years ago, when we started working together. I met him on the first day and he showed me the ropes. There were only two of us on the sales team, so we’d speak every day, have lunch together in the office, and that’s really how the friendship started. He asked me what I really wanted to do, and I said I wanted to start my own business. He had some skills that I didn’t have, and I had skills that he didn’t have. You know, you actually sit and think about it, but it’s going through with it. We just took the plunge, and said let’s start now.
Looking back ten years ago, would you have believed that Redsquid would become a multi-million-pound company?
Well I always had this perception that we would grow in a very short period of time. So I thought it was going to be so easy. But in hindsight, you’ve got to get back to reality. With that, I don’t think I would have thought I’d have what I’ve got here now. The amount of staff we’ve got, the amount of work we’ve got, the amount of sacrifices we’ve had to make. You just have this dream, that you believe in, that it’s not until you’ve implemented it that you think, oh wow, this is what we’ve created.
So did you and Vince have a set image of what you wanted Redsquid to become?
We just wanted it to grow, grow, grow. But there was no projection of how many staff we wanted. There was an image of where we wanted to grow, but after you’ve overcome one hurdle, and so grow, then another hurdle, and you think “yep! We can grow again”. It’s about looking back at past success, past failures, but always moving forward.
So find something that you’re passionate about, something you actually genuinely love, and you’ll just keep pursuing that.
So what would you say to someone who thinks: “I want my business to be this in five/ ten years’ time?”
It’s like anything in your life, you’ve got to have an image of where you want it to be in two/ three/ four/ five years. But you’ve got to have your short term goals, as well as your long term ones. Initially, when you start a business, you’re going to be making loads of mistakes
How would you say running Redsquid has changed you?
It makes you grow up a bit more, cause obviously you’ve got more responsibility. It’s not just your future. You think about life differently; you start planning more. I’m still a little impulsive but, not as impulsive as I was before, because you’re not just looking after yourself. Regardless of whether you have just one member of staff, or two, or where we are now with forty/forty-five staff, you’re not just thinking about yourself, you’re thinking about your staff members as well. Which is critical, regardless of how many employees you’ve got.
Imagine an entrepreneur, just starting out with their own business, walked in. What advice would you give them?
I’d say, if you’re starting your own business, find out why you’re doing it. Is it monetary gain? Or is it something you’ve got an actual passion for. Is it something you love? There’s a difference. Because if you start a business, you get loads of problems, and mistakes, and lots of knock-backs as well. Any sane person would eventually, after a period of time, just give up. But if you enjoy what you do, if you’ve got a passion for what you do. You’ll keep coming back. So find something that you’re passionate about, something you actually genuinely love, and you’ll just keep pursuing that. Even after all the knock-backs. You’ll keep trying, you’ll keep picking away. It’s like a relationship.
So determination. Passion. And a clear idea of what you want to do?
What are you most proud of about Redsquid?
There’s loads of things! From the offices, from how we’ve grown from no customers to about seven-hundred customers, and of course our first (hopefully of many) acquisition last year. You look at some of the staff members we’ve got now. You get a lot of satisfaction when they come in young, and they progress over the years. And you’ve had such an influence on their life, as well. Thinking, oh wow! They came in on this salary, and they didn’t really have expectations, and now, if you look at them […] these staff members have grown and they’re running their own teams. They have had such an impact on our organisation. I personally get a lot of satisfaction from that. From the customers we’ve had over the last few years, we’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from them. Creating a culture in the working environment; where your staff are happy, and so your customers are happy. If your staff care about what you do, it will have a massive impact on your business.
Where would you like Redsquid to be in another ten years’ time?
I’ve always had this perception of Redsquid growing. So in ten years I’ve got this image of Redsquid having around 1000 staff. Of having businesses other than telecoms. Where we’re a market leader in terms of where someone is like “You’ve heard of Redsquid, oh wow”. This is what Redsquid stands for. Where they’re like “Okay, I’m going with Redsquid. I know they’re going to offer me world-class service”. But also having an impact on our local community as well. Like what we’ve done with the YMCA recently; taking on more apprentices.
What do ten years of Redsquid mean to you?
Oh it’s amazing! Fantastic! Lots of satisfaction. All those times where business wasn’t great, when you have those tough days. You look at it now, you always believe you could achieve much more, but you look around the office; at the staff and at the customers, everyone has a bad day, a bad week, and the good days outweigh the bad ones.
If your staff care about what you do, it will have a massive impact on your business.
Are you looking forward to our 10th anniversary event at the Madison Gardens (September 9th)?
Definitely! It’s going to be fantastic! It’s exciting, because it’s on quite a large scale, because we’ve got quite a lot of our old staff turning up, along with the new generation of staff we’ve got now. It’s just so important to remember those people, because some of them were with us when we first started. Some of the people we’ve invited, just can’t believe that this much time has gone by. You can’t forget what people have done for you in the past, because if it wasn’t for them and their work, we wouldn’t be where we are today. We’ve got some friends from Vodafone coming as well who have been instrumental to the growth of Redsquid, they’ve been very supportive over the last few years. It’s going to be a time to celebrate what everyone has achieved.