The Digital Marketplace Contenders, 3: PeaSoup, Weybridge

Nov 04, 2015

In the next in our series looking at small, promising new entrants to the UK public sector tech supply chain, we meet Martin Bradburn, Chief Executive Officer of Weybridge, Surrey-based cloud services player PeaSoup

Tell us about your company and the value proposition, please Martin.

PeaSoup is a “born in the cloud” company, formed to create a cloud service, designed and built with a fresh architectural approach, to provide unrivalled levels of performance and stability. We like to say we 'humanise' cloud computing, delivering consumable computing solutions to businesses. Our model is simple; we exploit technology and operational processes to build a business with reduced overheads to keep our cost attractive. We focus on the detail and innovate in the architecture to reduce the risks while we keep our operation focused. Our pricing model is also simple; there are no hidden elements - we take an honest approach to business, not driven to lock in customers on long term contracts but about proving that good service and fair pricing builds better customer loyalty. The outcome is a quality focused service, price sensitive but more importantly price sensible. So I'd say we are here to share our experience, humanise cloud computing and build great relationships with our customers.

We provide UK based, private virtual datacentres, all based on the VMware vCloud suite of products. We're proud to say we are recognised by VMware as the first company in Europe to design our cloud on a pure server architecture to provider a true software defined service, a feat we showcased at the VM Partner Exchange in San Francisco earlier this year. This cloud is the foundation for our three core products of Infrastructure as a Service, DR as a Service and Backup as a Service (see more here).

Our customers are varied in sector, and their number's growing on a monthly basis. All our first customers were in the media, for example, but we now host retail customers, SaaS providers and a variety of others, all of whom have the same business requirement in common - stability and performance.

Why are you going on the The Digital Marketplace? What do you expect to get out of it? And why now?

I have been listening to government for over 10 years talking about its willingness and indeed alleged preference of working with smaller businesses. But over the same period of time, I have also experienced first-hand the frustration of being precluded from central government procurement processes. As a small business, the investment needed in both time and personnel to respond to a public sector bid is usually completely commercially non-viable. Tenders like that work well when purchasing commodities, but very rarely do they achieve value where a solution is required to solve a problem. Some tenders I have seen care less about the outcome and value and more about the procurement process itself, to be honest.

So, coming from this sceptical, historical position, I spent a number of months researching The Digital Marketplace and all things G-Cloud. Initially, I had mixed responses from those I contacted... but I soon learned that those who respected it as a buying framework but also combined this framework with a sales and marketing process were successful - and it was, at last, a method where government departments could buy from the smaller businesses.

Having decided we would move forward with our G-cloud submission, we then contracted with a specialist company to train all staff on what it means to us as a company and how to best approach the submission. We decided to focus on the three core services that PeaSoup provide to keep the initial submission tractable, agreeing we would expand the offering based on feedback in subsequent rounds, rather than overcomplicate the initial process.

How did you find the process of applying? Were some parts really easy, some confusing, of getting onto the G-Cloud? Did you get any help? What could be done to simplify or rationalise the process from your point of view?

The actual submission was reasonably straightforward. We gathered the questions into a spreadsheet so we could work off-line before the submission; as we are a small team, we divided the three services across the team, then compared and refined the responses before we completed the on-line questions. In fairness, this was a straightforward process and we could have immediately submitted the online answers, added our standard price sheet and a small service definition. However, the advice we received was that the service document was our opportunity to explain our answers in greater detail, lay out and detail all the USPs of our proposition and also how to evaluate PeaSoup.

The challenge was, we drastically under-estimated the time and effort this extended service definition document would take, having started with a set of common headings the expectation was a day's effort that we would fit around other business over a working week... a week later, we realised more time was needed! So we ended up dedicating two office days per service document before we could get to a review point. There was then a further day of tidying up the presentation and a half day of formatting before the submission deadline.

Was it worth the nine man-days of effort to document what we already had? Time will tell. It was reminiscent of the time and effort of completing a tender process - however, every element and every question was completely relevant. Could we have done it quicker? Yes. But not as thoroughly, and we need to give ourselves the best opportunity to be successful.

Overall all, despite already having the information, this was a really good process to go through, as it re-emphasised our processes and procedures to all staff, elevating the importance of compliance and legalities that we adhere to here at PeaSoup.

Thanks, a very useful insight into it all. So to sum for today, Martin, what you see as the future for cloud as a delivery mechanism for UK public services?

The key is a continued growing adoption of the 'cloud first' policy. The public sector should take advantage of the benefits of the cloud, and utilise this newfound agility to deliver exceptional services. From my research, central government's policies and ability to open up the competitive landscape to SMEs is paying dividends already via proven cost saving and greater flexibility. This mandate should now be extended to other, more localised public services.

To find out more about this G-Cloud-7 Digital Contender, go here

We are looking for other companies entering the Digital Marketplace and would love to feature your experiences in this new on-going editorial series. Please get in touch with us here to kick start process:

(c) 2015

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