Six years ago, with my wife – Annelie Geldenhuys – and my business partner – Craig Tarr, we started GTconsult. The original name was G&T, or Geldenhuys and Tarr, and we didn’t realise at the time ampersands couldn’t be used in URL’s… but that’s a story for another time.
The main reason we started the business was simple, we fully believed that we could deliver business solutions to enterprises at a much more rapid pace replacing the traditional slow custom developed route so many companies where doing.
The company was an instant success, we never needed seed funding. We bootstrapped the entire idea and just pushed all profits back into the business for the first few years as we gained momentum and expanded with recruitment and the establishment of new locations. After three years, we had established offices with staff in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg with a full staff compliment in each office. Because of the skills that we had to offer, we gained a number of enterprise clients and already had offers from larger corporations to merge into their businesses.
However, we decided to diversify and avoid sovereign risk by adding a US based firm which offered our style of rapid development in Seattle across the globe. It made sense at the time to expand the business to have 24-hour operations and be near to Microsoft to ensure that as partners, we knew what was happening on the ground to rapidly adapt to changes. We hired a big shot MVP, got some talented staff, and a swanky office in downtown Bellevue.
We realised very quickly that running three local offices during the day and then one startup on the other side of the planet was near impossible. Craig decided to move to the states to keep momentum going; while this occurred, the rest of the team tried to keep things running locally without his expertise and found that that too was almost impossible.
We did what a number of older wiser people had warned me against for so many years, don’t expand too quickly. The consequences where huge, Craig failed to get his VISA to run the branch which was down to a number of items and cost us the team on the ground as they had no leadership. It was then that we decided to run everything remotely from South Africa.
Our Local branches also took a huge knock. We put the wrong people in charge of delivery and then paid for it for the next year as we lost our first ever client, and then a number more.
It eventually dawned on me then that GT will never mean as much to others at it will to Annie, Craig and I. It’s our name on the door and our vision that will always give us the extra drive to do more, to go the extra mile, and to ensure that what we do is something we would be proud off to add our name to.
This year, we decided to take back all decision making to the founders. We restructured the business to ensure we see the quality and delivery of everything we do, and build a culture of urgency, focus, passion and broad collaboration.
Craig and I went back to how things started and are meeting with each client on a monthly basis to better understand how their business works and letting them know about what we think the industry is doing in what we call Blue Sky events.
We also need to remember we need to have fun, that is why in our office space we take time to humour each other and poke fun at situations that once caused immense stress and panic. I also love to have country music playing wherever I go, the team has caught on, it relaxes me and allows me to focus deeply when in the zone.
To infinity and beyond
Today, I look back on these six years and know we have so much more ahead of us. Craig, Annelie and myself are immensely proud of the people who have worked so hard and believed in our dream. We have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to create a managed services business in the IT space and its extremely rewarding to see it sprout wings and succeed.
GT’s current client list is a list of great companies, and we are constantly getting great feedback about our service, innovation and delivery. We won our first big international award where all Microsoft partners congregate annually at Inspire in Washington D.C.
We have also started a software based firm named Seven Twenty to host all of our software packages such as SharePoint Vitals an analytics platform and Umlindi a monitoring and insights tool all for SharePoint. These tools have been adding massive value to clients around the world and the business has been growing extremely well since we opened earlier this year.
I am excited about what the future holds for GT, I am also confident we are in the perfect position for huge scalable growth now that we have learnt from our previous mistakes. I would like to thank our clients for believing in us and most importantly the GT team for their dedication, hard work, attention to detail and resilience in ensuring we still are and continue to be the best in the game.