Business Journey: Dan Kitchen of razorblue
Starting his business at just 17 years old, Dan Kitchen was keen to learn by doing, make his own mistakes and his IT company, razorblue, now employs over 80 people across six offices. He tells us about his business journey.
Tell us about your business, what does it do?
We look after IT for businesses. But we’re so much more than that.
We have our own network so can provide not only the technology solutions but also the connectivity that brings them together. This means that whatever a customer wants, we can provide ourselves.
We also have our own cloud platform and two data centres, as well as in-house software development capabilities.
By minimising the use of third parties, we can offer customers a much more joined-up, end-to-end service,
which means we are accountable for everything and can provide a better service for customers.
What did you do before you started this business?
Nothing. I launched the business when I was 17, having realised that the three months studying media, computing and business at sixth form wasn’t giving me what I wanted and that it’s what I wanted to do so I might as well get on with it.
I’ve never had any other jobs – not even a paper round!
What inspired you to start up?
Tech has always been a passion but I’m also very entrepreneurial.
College was very theoretical whereas I wanted to experience the real world, make my own mistakes and find my own solutions, rather than writing a report on others’ successes and failures.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
We look after technology for businesses and help them to be more efficient and keep them safe.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
Over the years I’ve learned a lot about not only seeking help but where to get it. We have two non-executive directors on our board who have a vast amount of experience in their respective areas so are well placed to help with most things we face.
I’ve also discovered that employing people who are more intelligent than you is sometimes a good idea as they can bring new thoughts and initiatives to the table.
Really, it’s all about who I surround myself with in business, as everyone in my business provides their own version of help, guidance and support to not only me, but the rest of the team.
“The only limit really is yourself – don’t be the reason you don’t do something.‟-Dan Kitchen, Managing Director of razorblue
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
I was lucky when I launched my business – at 17 I didn’t have a mortgage, bills or any commitments, so the risk was purely my own.
I borrowed a small amount of money from my parents to help my first project, then used the profit from that to get my next one moving, and so on.
So this self-funding and organic growth means that we didn’t need to look for any external funding until we completed the significant acquisition of our North West base in February 2019.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Each year brings its own achievements and not one year has passed where I haven’t been even more proud of the business and team than I was the year before.
Within the business and the industry we’re in, we’re used to moving quickly, so the goals we set are only for the 12 months ahead of us – we don’t look any further as we know they’ll change!
How do you differentiate your business from others?
With our single service provider model, we do everything whereas our competitors only do some things.
Each of our account managers comes from a tech background so they not only understand clients and their needs, they can actively manage them and solve problems without simply behaving as salespeople.
This scalable model means we’re able to grow and adapt the team as the business grows.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
Interesting. It’s fantastic, but it’s true that it can sometimes be lonely at the top!
Where do you see your business in five years’ time?
We don’t plan more than one year ahead due to the nature of the industry we’re in, but of course, I have my own dreams for the business!
By acquiring businesses across the country, we want to be a national service provider with a local presence, local relationships and local knowledge. That high-quality service provision is key to our business, our success and our future.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
The only limit really is yourself – don’t be the reason you don’t do something.