RapidSpike was set up in January 2015 by Andrew Mason and Robin Hill after selling their previous venture, IT security and penetration testing firm RandomStorm. RapidSpike specialises in uptime and performance monitoring for web sites and web apps.
The firm is based in Yorkshire, and is in its early stages of growth and currently employs six people. We put Mason under our startup spotlight to hear more about his latest venture.
What does RapidSpike do?
RapidSpike is a cloud-based uptime and performance monitoring service for websites and web applications. It simplifies site, network and application monitoring by alerting system administrators of any key changes so that they can take steps to ensure a positive user experience.
Organisations use RapidSpike to constantly monitor websites to identify problems, measure performance and improve capacity planning, before customers notice any degradation in their online experience.
Marketers use RapidSpike to track the customer journey on their company websites, so that they can measure return on investment in campaigns and make relevant offers and information easier to find.
Why did you develop RapidSpike?
More and more consumers are shopping online these days. According to the Office for National Statistics Internet Access Households and Individuals survey 76 percent of adults bought goods or services online on 6 August 2015, up from 53 percent in 2008.
As a result, businesses are far more reliant on their online presence. Slow page loads and broken links result in abandoned sites and shopping carts and can permanently damage customer relationships and company reputations.
There are plenty of companies, such as Pingdom and Uptime Robot, that tell system administrators how their websites are performing, but no-one is offering an overarching service that monitors and evaluates the whole system; from the web server performance, through the effectiveness of a particular online advert on the customer's journey.
We come from a security monitoring background. I have in-depth experience of Cisco systems, penetration testing and web application testing, while Robin has a lot of creative flair when it comes to solving customers' issues, listening to them and addressing their pain points.
Robin often jokes that I was born with a laptop in my hands and he was born with a phone in his. Working as a team, we can bring all of that technical and business expertise to develop services that address real issues in the most straightforward way.
Tell us how you got your business off the ground.
We sold RandomStorm to Accumuli Security for £8.9m in December 2014, and that provided us with the cash to start this next venture.
What technology do you use?
RapidSpike's platform uses Amazon Web Services for scalability and we developed the platform in-house using MySQL, PHP, Phalcon Framework and AngularJS.
Are you based in an incubator or startup centre?
We set up the business in the Round Foundry Media Centre in Leeds. This has proved to be a great place for us to start our business as we have been able to recruit some exceptional local people.
What level of funding have you received so far?
We haven't received any external funding for this startup. Following the successful sale of our previous business we are bootstrapping this business.
What challenges have you encountered to date?
We identified the need for the RapidSpike business while we were still running our previous company, so the main challenge has been getting the software ready and finding customers that are looking for a simple service that tracks the entire online performance from the server to the sales receipt.
What's been the biggest highlight of your business?
Getting our platform ready three months ahead of schedule, showcasing it at the eCommerce Expo on 30 September, and winning our first customers.
What does your company do to relax or have fun after a busy day?
Robin and I both love our golf and I like to take my sons out mountain biking in the Yorkshire Dales. We've got quite a young team here at RapidSpike and they are really into their fitness, so they tend to go off for a run or to a CrossFit session after work. They are an agile development team in every sense of the word.
If I offer to buy them all a bacon sarnie on a Friday morning no-one wants one because it messes up their training regimes. It's very different to when I was a lad.
What are your favourite and worst things about running your own startup?
My favourite thing about running my own startup is the freedom and creativity that it affords me. I can see a business need and set about solving it without any constraints. I can choose exactly who I want to work with and create the business that I want to work for.
I also get a great deal of satisfaction from creating new job opportunities and nurturing talented employees so that they really help the business to grow and thrive.
If pushed to talk about the negative aspects, I suppose the hardest part of running a startup is the energy that you have to put in initially and the time it takes to get the word out and raise your profile. It helps to have a bit of Yorkshire grit so that you don't take no for an answer. We're constantly looking for new ways to solve problems.
If you could emulate the success of another startup, which would it be?
RandomStorm. We had a lot of fun building that business and created a really exceptional team.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.
Coffee shop of choice?
Pickled Pepper in Leeds.
Beverage of choice?
The Chequers Inn in Ledsham, Leeds.
Do you benefit from startup communities and related networking?
We have always been supportive of local networking groups and entrepreneurs' events, such as the MADE event in Sheffield on 22 October, and when we founded RandomStorm we were early sponsors of the B-Sides conference, which allowed infosecurity professionals, ethical hackers, bug bounty hunters and coders to network and exchange ideas, without commercial pressures.
Networking is a good way of meeting potential employees and business partners.
Could the government and technology industry do more to support UK startups?
Absolutely, the government could do so much more to support UK startups with grants and low interest loans and through tax reductions on corporate tax, directors' personal tax and employment tax.
I also believe that entrepreneurs should be rewarded for their contribution to wealth creation, with perhaps a tax reduction linked to every £1,000 of profit that their fledgling businesses generate.
If you want to take part in the V3 Startup Spotlight contact Roland Moore-Colyer.
Previous startups under the spotlight have ranged from IoT wireless network firm Nwave Technologies and 3D mapping platform developer eeGeo, to social listening app Twizoo and Android and iOS house-sharing app Chored.
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