Network Union is a British Telecom (BT) Authorized Business Partner, whose focus is on transforming the sales process by which medium and enterprise-scale organizations procure BT Global or UK Wide Area Networks (WAN), e.g. MPLS VPN, VPLS and Ethernet-based capability.
Network Union adds value within the presales and post-sales phases of the WAN lifecycle. Using workflows developed from the ground up, they create new WAN designs based on tangible data from business strategy through to applications. The company’s primary focus is on the BT IP Connect Global and UK service which is BT’s flagship MPLS and VPLS platform. The designs are then routed through dedicated BT resources to build the best possible proposal and commercials. Any subsequent contracts are directly placed into BT without added fees or margins. Network Union remains assigned throughout contract assisting with trend reporting.
The company optimizes performance and the best possible BT commercial models for businesses, taking into account individual goals, budgetary restrictions, and industry-specific demands, and all The Network Union clients can count on the full backing of BT and its massive international customer support and service team.
Ultimately, it is the combination of their boutique consultancy and focused approach with the complete backing of BT, which makes them a compelling proposition.
Here is more on Network Union from founder, Robert Sturt.
Who is your startup aimed at?
Any global or national organization looking to ensure the WAN is an enabler to their business. There is a huge amount of customer churn in today’s market, which is mainly caused by a weak sales process but also a lack of focus throughout contract.
How does your startup stand out against its competitors?
We offer the personalized attention of a boutique firm, backed by the full support and technical backing of one of the global giants in telecommunications.
We bring users the customized connectivity solutions they can only get from close interaction with the logistical capabilities and service guarantee only an industry leader like BT can provide.
Network Union consultancy ensures optimized performance and cost-saving models for businesses, taking into account individual goals, budgetary restrictions, and industry-specific demands, and all Network Union clients can count on the full backing of BT and its massive international customer support and service team.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
Over the last couple of decades, the issues we’ve witnessed when IT procure WAN connectivity are fairly typical and common. In many respects, the problems are the result of a lack of alignment between the specifics of a business and the capability of the service provider. And, once contracts are signed, the in-contract approach to due diligence is often weak and lacks a consistent methodology. In order to create our process, we essentially researched and documented the strengths and weaknesses of design, proposal building and throughout-contract resource. The output forms the basis of our approach we operate today and is used within our Authorized BT Business for their Global and UK prospects.
Did you have any concerns when starting your business, if so what were they?
If you build it, sometimes they will not come. I believe the main concern was marketing and how to spread the word to the marketplace. This said, we have worked with some recognizable household names and the Network Union name is now becoming more widespread.
What is your business background, and what got you interested in startups?
I worked for eight years at Verizon, leaving as a Senior Presales Consultant in 2007. Throughout my time there I maintained a good industry knowledge becoming Cisco certified with a focus on Wide Area Network and IP Telephony solutions. In 2012 I became the founder and managing director of Network Union, bringing my extensive knowledge of the Enterprise WAN space to the forefront of our workflows.
The interest for me is split between the knowledge I have of the telecoms industry and my entrepreneurial desire to disrupt the way things are “traditionally” done. There really wasn’t too much sense in attempting to move too far away from what I know which made my path forward clear.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
Network Union was a very lean startup, so far we haven’t had any funding. We are open to funding but are more interested in an investment, which would allow us to form partnerships to grow the business. We believe our model would work well to open up revenues for IT firms that do not currently assist their clients with WAN services.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
The overwhelming pressure in the business world is to innovate, but I find most people misunderstand what that implies. Innovation doesn’t have to mean reinventing the wheel, or creating a whole new industry. There are plenty of overlooked opportunities to add immense value on both ends of the consumer spectrum.
We looked at the high turnover and often-bulky operational structure of the major telecom providers, and saw the need for a dynamic, customer-oriented service that could move quickly and devote individual attention to improve efficiency, customer satisfaction, and sales. Working with BT has been a great and mutually beneficial partnership, and the role we serve as an interlocutor has meant more satisfaction and better performance for the client. That’s the power of niche thinking, and in the end, that’s just as radical as any brave new idea.
How have you kept your business relevant and engaged with your audience over the last three years?
Content. Not only in the production of content but also the process of researching and evolving material. It’s this approach that has kept us up to date with the latest subjects and questions on our prospects and clients’ minds. In today’s more globalized market, organizations need to learn about how their challenges relate to the WAN in order to avoid future bottlenecks.
How long has your startup been in the making, and who is the team behind the business?
The original idea for Network Union was formed in January 2010, although the name was selected late the year before. The team comprises of me, Robert Sturt (Managing Director), and a structure of sales specialists and project co-ordination. The BT Authorized Partnership started in January 2013.
What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
Ironing out the lead generation aspect of our business. We have multiple routes to market but the results tend to come in bursts, which results in certain parts of the year being much busier than others. We have a good stream of recurring revenues and therefore do not rely on one-off sales but achieving a more predictable new business stream will help us understand and target growth.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
Partnerships are a key element. We want to offer our expertise to organizations looking to create an additional WAN revenue stream. We know many businesses are put off by the complexity of WAN sales but their customer base have some kind of reliance on connectivity. We are looking to help unlock these revenues by providing our approach and sharing profits.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
Get a strategy and stick to it. Today there are many different avenues to explore within business and therefore it’s tempting to change direction constantly. Whilst I believe it is important to pivot a business where required, an environment of constant change means organizations end up with perpetual activities. My advice is to deliver and analyze over time before making major changes.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
That you don’t have to re-invent the wheel or start with huge investment. We have aligned ourselves with BT Business, which means we don’t have the capital required to create our own network infrastructure. And, to compete with such an established network would require an investment of billions. However, we know we are able to make a difference and provide value. In other words, consider the value you are able to add to an already established business. This approach allows you to get started, build a reputation and grow without huge investments.