It’s been ten years since the Abavus team first travelled to Bournemouth to exhibit at a ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ event, marketing and trying to sell for the first time what was then Version 1 of our digital My Council Services product, a native mobile phone application for citizens to report issues to their local council. It subsequently took nine long months of travelling around the country for us to sell this to our first local authority customer, New Forest District council, with St Helens Borough council following on shortly thereafter. Both it’s good to say are still customers today.
Trying to sell into any market is always difficult particularly if you are the new kids on the block. But in a crowded competitive government market-place post-2008 crash where budgets were already being squeezed, it was even harder. But fast forward ten years on and Abavus is now an established IT vendor providing a broad range of related transformational IT products to over 50 UK local authority customers. A great achievement from a standing start!
Some of my colleagues that have also been on this journey may have a different view, but here are my five reasons which I believe have enabled us to survive and build a growing and successful business during that time:-
- Sticking to our knitting – throughout the last ten years, we have had many opportunities to diversify into other markets beyond local authorities. But despite the opportunities presented we have always decided to stay focused on this market alone and build products that are sector-specific.
- Building out our local authority product range – we knew that selling our first mobile application alone wouldn’t pay our respective mortgages, but we had to start somewhere. By listening to our customers and staff over time we have been able to organically grow and continue to grow our product range to meet both our customer’s digital needs and expectations.
- Selecting the right resources – we have built a strong supportive team from across the UK with the right blend of experience, subject, and sector knowledge as well as drawing in some raw talent in the form of workplace apprentices.
- Providing a flexible product set – both a blessing and occasionally a curse. Rather than having fixed products that are not adaptable, everything that we build and develop enables customers to configure and further enhance in order to meet their exact needs. Because our products are continually evolving and are being regularly updated they remain relevant and attractive to existing and new customers alike.
- Being competitive – gone are the days when most local authorities can afford to buy million-pound systems. Systems need to be flexible, agile, and importantly affordable. Whilst we don’t profess to be the cheapest, we provide products that offer a real return on investment and value for money.
With ten years now behind us, we continue to have the confidence to invest in our brand, technology, and company. This journey would not have been possible if it were not for the support of our customers, staff, collaborators, and friends. We, therefore, would like to say a big thank you to all of them and we look forward to working with everybody over the next ten years.