RapidSpike Turns 6
Picture the scene. It’s 9am on a cold, wet, January Sunday morning in 2015 and I’m trudging up Merrion Street in Leeds. Recently made redundant, I’m on my way to a coffee shop that I’m desperately hoping is open. Am I a coffee aficionado desperate for a fix? Am I getting pumped for a gym session? Do I just enjoy walks in the rain? No. I’m on my way to a job interview.
As I sit down with my large Americano, two men walk in dressed for golf. “They weren’t having me on”, I thought. Andrew and Robin had got in touch with me only a few days prior. I wasn’t being poached – the company I worked for had gone into administration the previous week and, suddenly jobless, I’d been fishing for interviews around Leeds ever since. A former colleague sent me a message out of the blue with Andrew’s details – apparently he was looking to start a new venture and needed a development team. Despite the weirdness, my curiosity prevailed.
“We want to build an uptime monitoring platform” Andrew said. “Called RapidSpike.” Robin added proudly. I thought they were having me on – had they not heard of the other website monitoring platforms?? It turned out they had…“if we can take 1% of the market then that’s plenty” Andrew said with a grin. I was 23 and barely out of uni, so I was hardly equipped to argue with them. “I don’t know how to build that.” I admitted. “Well, start with a blank pad of paper and Google”, came the reply.
Sam was also in talks with the golf-playing tech duo. He too had a similar interview, only his was at a service station McDonald’s somewhere near York. We’d been sold the dream in a way that wouldn’t be out of place in an Alan Partridge episode.
A couple of weeks later Sam popped to IKEA to collect office furniture. A photo of his overstuffed boot would later go viral on LinkedIn, at least in part due to the slightly sketchy car journey that followed. Some questions were raised about the safety of his small children on the back seat – but ever the family man, Sam assured us they had been perfectly safe. The post did alert our networks to our intentions; to build IKEA desks in a questionable small office in a questionable area of south Leeds.
After a week of drinking coffee and eating biscuits, Sam and I realised we needed a sensible adult around. We also needed some front-end work, branding, and logo-making. Bryn, another former colleague, had expressed his interest in startup life. After a whirlwind interview with Andrew and Robin – this time in a proper meeting room – he agreed to join us!
6 months later we released our beta platform. We’d invited a few hundred people to use it, put it live on a single server, and crossed our fingers. The crons rumbled on, the single-thread test scripts rattled through their duties and our beta users fed back their thoughts.
Over the next 2 and a half years we gained customers, experience, better infrastructure and a raft of new features. We also had new additions to the RapidSpike family; sales and account managers in the office, babies, and dogs at home.
But the most important addition to the company came at the start of the summer in 2018. I received a call whilst parked up alongside a loch in Scotland. I’d rented a van and gone on a road trip with my dog, Thor. Meanwhile back home a plan was afoot to change tac, re-energise and push us forward. I answered the phone and Gav introduced himself to me. A hardened businessman, known in the testing community, Gav was a force to be reckoned with.
Gav joined as CEO and over the next 6 months set about altering our tactic from cold calling to a marketing-first approach. We hired Georgina to lead the marketing front and found our footing and our identity. Through 2019 Gav nailed down what we were going to be – so far we’d built software to see who would come. But the new approach was to build what was right to build.
Out of the 6 years, the last 12 months have easily been the most crazy. Coronavirus has torn the world apart, thrown business meetings out of board rooms and into kitchens connected by the internet, and sparked a sweeping mental health pandemic that will outlast COVID by decades. To add to this we’ve doubled our team size, created departments once run as a part-time-at-best side thought, and released a v2 of our platform. Whilst on our virtual Christmas work party (how 2020) there were as many new faces on Zoom as old and it struck me just how crazy the year had been.
Our 7th year is set to be our biggest yet – we plan to double in size in every way except employee numbers – we’ve already done that! Even the office space will need to double when we get back in – there were only 8 of us the last time we were all there, and we were at capacity then! The previous 6 years have been full of ups and downs, customers won and lost, software built and scrapped. And not one bit of it has been boring.
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