The IT solutions company Nutbourne charted a 250% increase in volume in the first month of the pandemic. Sooraj Shah talks to one of its co-founders, Marcus Evans.

Nutbourne was co-founded by two best friends who had been burned by a number of bad experiences with managed services providers over the years.

Marcus Evans, CEO and co-founder of the IT solutions provider, says that the MSP model at the time was restrictive, meaning that customers could buy a fixed number of hours of support each month but would have to pay more if they went over.

“It wasn’t really where we wanted to be from a client satisfaction perspective,” says Evans. “It feels quite difficult to tell a client that you’re sorry they’ve run out of hours when they have a critical issue, and ask them for further payment.”

Nutbourne briefly trialled an unlimited usage break/fix model, but it soon became clear that this model was creating more work for the company, so it switched to what is now considered the usual managed services model.

“If you can go in and work with the client and get their systems upgraded, [and] get them all updated with the correct processes and configurations, then you can ensure there’s [fewer] issues to have to fix going forward,” says Evans.

At the same time, Evans, who has a project management background, continued to design and build office spaces – work that he was involved with before Nutbourne became an MSP.

“I’ve been involved in multiple office relocations, including the cabling and some of the tech, so we became an MSP with an additional edge in that we can still do an office fit-out,” he says.

This proved useful for the company because as clients were moving offices, they would consider new IT support suppliers. This is what funded the business in the first few years.

After five or six years, the company grew to 30 employees and was turning over £1.7m. Nutbourne is expected to turnover £2m this year for the first time, but Evans explains that it would have been more if it wasn’t for the pandemic.

“Everything was going well, and then Covid-19 hit.”

Nutbourne was extremely busy for the first three or four weeks of the pandemic. The company sent out an email to all of its clients suggesting that they consider their home-working strategy. Only two out of the MSP’s 70 clients responded to the email.

Shortly afterwards, Nutbourne sent out another email to emphasise the importance of getting a remote-working strategy in place but none of the clients responded. However, this soon changed.

“Curiously enough, when it really started to kick off we had about 30 clients who wanted to talk to us about VPNs and how to set up their systems – so naturally we had about a 250% increase in volume in that first month,” Evans says.

Since then, a lot of project work has been halted due to uncertainty around how companies will be working in the future. This has hit Nutbourne’s income, but the company still has a steady amount of business coming in from clients’ IT support needs.

For its customers in hospitality and retail, two industries most impacted by the recession, Nutbourne agreed to a three-month suspension of contract. This offered the companies a reprieve from paying for MSP services.

“That got us a lot of goodwill from clients because they could see that we were really trying to help them out. It also meant that it was a little bit more difficult for us as we were expecting that income – but luckily we’re in relatively good shape,” says Evans.