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David’s Story

David's Story

I sold my last main business to Vodafone Group PLC in the mid-nineties. It was by then a top ten UK Cellular Service Provider but boy what a journey and education that was. It was a combination of an exciting and at times downright scary time where I was part of the new wave and start of the mobile phone era, one that when I started in 1986 and went to the banks for investment was laughed at for making the statement “one day all our children will have a mobile phone”. Not such a funny thing now!
But in truth there was I lot I didn’t enjoy. In the early pioneering days, it and we were innovative but as the industry matured it focused only on connections and the innovators became irrelevant to the networks who could only focus on how many subscribers they were connecting every month. As a Service Provider, essentially the middleman, we never had control over the end-to end availability or quality of service to our customers. When I exited that business, I was determined that if I re-entered the technology sector, I would never be in that position again. I wanted to create a business that allowed us to be more customer centric and in control of our own destiny.
Excelerate wasn’t my first introduction to the 1st Responder or Health Market or the challenges that face this sector during a major incident. I can track that all the way back to December 1988 when Terrorists blew a Pan Am Boeing 747 out of the sky over Lockerbie, Scotland. I can still remember the call I took from an incident commander managing that incident and wanting to “borrow” more mobile phones urgently. We rushed them to the scene, but I can also remember wondering whether in 1988 there would even be enough network coverage anyway. Mobile cells and private LTE solutions hadn’t been thought of and what network coverage there was, was purely voice. My mobile service provider went on from that day to become a key supplier to 1st Responders in the UK and in fact the sole mobile service provider to the entire NHS so it would seem the sector is somehow in my blood. Perhaps subconsciously I was already trying to figure out how to support this critical sector more effectively and with greater resilience. It is ironic that we founded Excelerate three months before the New York Twin Towers Terrorist Attack of 9/11 which highlighted even more the need for the things we do and the way we do it today.
Of course, we’ve moved far beyond voice today. With the advancements in digital transformation (a journey I am pleased to be at the forefront of with both our customers and partner projects) voice has been joined by data and video in equal measure as a means of providing much more relevant and useful situational awareness in real time which can, with the right networks and management, be shared with anyone, anywhere on the planet. It is interesting that when reading posts on social media today there is much hype about “Hybrid Connectivity” as if it is a new discovery. I can assure you that Excelerate introduced the concept of using Satellite Broadband to the UK’s First Responders and some other customers in Europe in 2002 and quite soon after that we were providing multi bearer offerings (generally cellular and satellite) in a blended solution to ensure that wherever our customers needed to perform they always had a network they could rely on. So, I think we were the first to offer satellite broadband in this way, certainly in Europe, and I think we were the first to introduce hybrid connectivity on a commercial scale to real world everyday users.
When I talk about controlling our own destiny it is because I have experienced the limitations of simply being a distributor or dealer which in reality isn’t that challenging in an expanding market. I wanted Excelerate to be different, and I believe it is.  I believe we are an unusual combination of a developer (we develop our own products, solutions and services), and we are an extremely competent Integrator capable of delivering very large, sometimes national contracts. We maintain what we provide and do not subcontract any of this out. And we are a private satellite and 4G/5G Network operator. What this all means in reality is that I am not aware of any customer problem we can’t solve, even if we need to develop something that doesn’t yet exist. We can ensure that what we supply is easy to use by normal human beings. It means we can deliver complex contracts on time and on budget and we can maintain them and guarantee optimum use throughout the lifetime of the contract improving return on investment and best value for money. And our work as a private network operator means we can offer and deliver optimum resilience – our customers need never be in a position where they are left without a network over which their data, voice and video applications will be left wanting. In being in control of our own destiny our customers only have “one throat to choke” should a problem occur.
All of this didn’t happen overnight, and I still call Excelerate the longest start up I’ve ever invested in. Sometimes a business needs a catalyst to get them going because in the early adoption stage the rest of the market is still sat on its hands wondering what the early adopters can see that they can’t. More nudges came in the form of several quite tragic human events with probably the most important one for Excelerate being the 7/7 London bombings where communications for 1st Responders were catastrophically compromised, not necessarily because of any single human failing but because at any large scale incident in a densely populated area, if there is a high dependency on any public communications network then it is only a matter of time before that will either fail or become so congested it might as well not exist. Think of any large sporting even or even New Year’s Eve when we try to send a text, make a call or send a photo via WhatsApp – under the weight of so many people congregating in the same area all competing for spectrum or bandwidth, then delays or failures occur – it isn’t a possibility in certain conditions, it is a certainty.

“at any large scale incident in a densely populated area, if there is a high dependency on any public communications network then it is only a matter of time before that will either fail or become so congested it might as well not exist.”

So we have built a business ensuring that we can help any customer mitigate the risk and improve the performance and availability of adequate connectivity, under any circumstances. The sea change for us (forgive the pun as we have a rapidly growing global maritime business now as well) is that everyone in just about every market segment wants improved and more resilient connectivity and Covid has really highlighted this.
This new dependency on a connectivity eco-system, that is made up in today’s world of multiple connectivity bearers and applications has brought about a number of complexities, misunderstandings and conundrums.
When people experience problems making a video call, sharing, or posting content, or streaming their favourite music or movie, they don’t say” Tut, Tut, I appear to have a connectivity problem”.  They are likely to throw their hands in the air claiming “My Wi-Fi or Internet is *#*# (every individual will have their choice word; at best this will be ‘rubbish’ at worse it will be an expletive). Bottom line it’s a big cause of frustration – and understood more today than ever following the pandemic, where everyone now understands the value of a reliable connection.

“Our customers are not ordinary, and neither is their work.

Bluntly, poor, and unreliable connectivity is not an option.”

So how can they avoid the experience I described earlier in the first place or if it happens, have someone else identify what the problem is and fix it?
The only way I know to avoid or fix problems fast, is to be joined at the hip and collaborate with our customers from the outset, to understand their challenges and what they want to achieve.
In many cases we problem solve and address this through an agnostic approach – a fully integrated design, implementation, and support methodology. And finally, but not least, add value through our 365 24/7 fully managed service and support provision, ensuring solutions are resilient and maintained throughout their lifetime and ensuring our customers are offered resilient and reliable connectivity anywhere in any circumstances.

“If it doesn’t exist, we will design and develop something from scratch that is utterly fit for purpose and resilient, and then integrate it end to end.”

It takes a while to establish a market reputation, none less when dealing with extremely discerning customers, and so it is with real pride that I highlight our growth in both these areas in recent months and years and we will continue to build upon this.
I fundamentally believe that whatever solutions we develop from our work in the first responder market should be available to people in general, whether it’s at home, at leisure or at work.
Five years ago, we began developing a suite of solutions centred on people being able to take their networks with them wherever they needed, utilising any application they may want to use at the time. Providing a scalable suite of solutions for diverse and volume-based markets.
By 2019, ten per cent of our turnover came from products that didn’t exist in 2018, and in 2020 that rose to 20% – a percentage which is rising relentlessly.
I am so convinced that what we develop and provide for our 1st Responder customers around the world can benefit other markets and sectors. Our first obvious “diversification” started with Excelerate’s entry into the Superyacht technology business which is based in the South of France with a UK Maritime division to fully support our offshore maritime customer base as well. Ironically although it seemed to take forever to get the early Excelerate going, we were very much the pioneer and so almost naturally became the market leader by any measure in the 1st Responder sector. We are a late entrant into the maritime sector, so our challenges are different as is the scale of competition, or it is in the eyes of the marketplace. But not to me, in reality I don’t see many competitors at all who can truly deliver the breadth and range of things that we can so we’ve just got a perception problem to fix, its not cheap to fix, but fix it we will, and the signs are that this is already well on the way.
When we started the company two decades ago, it was on the basis that we would genuinely make a difference to people’s lives, and I sincerely believe that our continued growth is a testament to that.
We are celebrating our twentieth anniversary in 2021 and that is twenty years for me at the helm and yet every day it still feels like a new beginning. I can barely contain my excitement when our teams tell me the things they are doing, the new markets they are opening and the new initiatives they are introducing to ensure that the next twenty years are every bit as exciting as the last twenty.
The one constant in life is change and I truly believe these will improve peoples lives and jobs and will be a legacy to be proud of. Making a difference and being proud of what we do, that’s what drives me – money is just a by-product of everything else.
 David Savage, Founder & CEO

Our technical leadership, R&D capability and close understanding of our customers’ requirements have seen us become a trusted global market leader for first responders and increasingly the first-choice solution for a growing number of commercial customers.  As innovators and developers, we are continually exploring new ideas and shaping these to meet our customers’ requirements with future-proofing and sustainable cost-efficiency in mind.

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