Dennis came down to huddled to tell us about his new cloud management service, Steamhaus. He offers his fresh experience to budding new entrepreneurs while explaining what makes Steamhaus stand out in such a competitive industry.
Dennis Keighron-Foster – Steamhaus Transcript
What’s your name, position and where do you work?
My name’s Dennis Keighron-Foster and I’m the co-founder and Creative Director of Steamhaus.
We’re a cloud consultancy. We look after the infrastructure behind companies’ websites, mainly businesses that have a big online presence like creative agencies, content creators, developers and ecommerce brands.
What separates you from the competition?
I think the thing that separates us from the competition is that unlike the bricks and mortar hosting companies of old, we’re not tied down to a data centre. We’re completely independent and that means that we can cherry pick the elements that are best – we’re provider agnostic and that helps us create something more elegant and it’s a bespoke hosting solution. We almost become an extension of the development team which should free up the developers time to be able to concentrate on your core business. And we’re not just a hosting provider, it’s a partnership.
The way that the cloud works, it expands and contracts to your needs, so although we’re adding all of this value to your business, enhancing the websites and applications that you create, it should be cheaper because you’re only paying for what you use.
What have been the highlights of your company so far?
I think the highlight of the company so far for me was our launch party. You know, as a startup I think it’s nice to create a bit of a presence and we had a really beautiful party at Affleck and Brown in the Northern Quarter. There was cocktails flowing, canapés, and everybody that came were really supportive and that was a really good feeling. Everybody there completely got what we were trying to achieve. We don’t believe in a hard sell, we really believe that your reputation and your work should speak for itself. Nevertheless, everybody seemed to really buy into our ethos.
What qualities help to succeed in your industry?
I think the qualities that you need to succeed in this industry are simple and it’s the thing that Daniel and I have been banging on about on blog and company videos for years. It’s customer service. You need to look after your customers. And it all needs to be backed up with the right technical expertise, of course, and the patience and tenacity to get cloud hosting right. It is intricate and that’s where you need somebody like Rob, who’s our Technical Director. He’s genuinely excited about getting stuff right, about creating something new or ironing out the creases of people’s current setup or completely and utterly architecting a new AWS or Google cloud platform for you.
Why would new businesses choose Manchester?
I think that new businesses choose Manchester because of the community here. For us in the Northern Quarter, it’s just, it’s completely brimming with talent and, you know, that’s just a boiling pot for wonderful things to happen here and not only that, in our industry specifically it’s just got the best infrastructure outside of London and the best fiber connections, so really it’s got all of the right ingredients.
Which local companies would you recommend?
One of the local companies that I would recommend is my sort of other partner in crime, SPL Communications Ian Sandal. I’m from a film background and I really believe that companies kind of undersell themselves with video. Either don’t invest enough money into it or they don’t do it properly. And I think Ian really produces some of the best corporate videos in Manchester. They’ve got soul and direction and anybody can watch it and find it – find it entertaining and valuable. And I think that really focus on video when it comes to marketing because people spend so much money on sponsoring events and stuff which is all well and good but actually a video is something tangible that can put your message across properly and concisely.
Any advice for new startup companies?
Advice for a new startup? Everybody’s not obviously in the same situation we’re in. We had the capital from our previous company that we sold but nevertheless, I think that even if it’s not money, a lot of time should be invested in branding and your environment. You know, that then in turn gives your staff something to be proud of, something to talk about and they become ambassadors for your business. And you know, they go out and they bring other people back to your office or to your website or to your beautifully creative stuff. It’s about attention to detail and I think if you get the small things right then you can get the bigger things even better.
What is the benefit of working in Manchester?
For us, I think that the main benefit for working in Manchester and particularly in the Northern Quarter I suppose, in the city centre, is being near our core businesses, you know, the digital agencies are booming around here and it’s lovely to be back in that community again.
Your favourite place to eat and drink in Manchester?
My favourite place to eat and drink… I think restaurant has to be San Carlo, I think it maybe is possibly past it’s heyday a little but the kind of hustle and bustle in there and all the waiters and just like you really feel like you’re in Italy and I kind of like that. It’s cool.
I’m Dennis Keighron-Foster from Steamhaus and I’ve been huddled.