Red Badger - eight years and maturing nicely

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It is crazy that three years have already passed since I was writing a similar blog post to this, celebrating Red Badger turning 5. In that previous post I started by mentioning how time goes so quickly and that still rings true. I cannot believe it has been 8 years since Stu, Dave and I started this company. 

This year for me has been the year that Red Badger has really matured and established itself as a credible alternative to Tier 1's, able to scale and adapt to change. We still very much have a culture of a startup but our maturity has grown considerably over the last few years.

We have a commitment and constant drive to provide value and high quality in everything we do for our clients - “Do the right thing, do the thing right”. As a by-product of providing our clients with quality and value we drive revenue through repeat business and this is a model we have maintained since our very beginnings.  As a result, we have grown to over 100 people with forecasted revenues of more than £12m this year but very importantly, it is sustainable growth. We are not growing for growth’s sake because we do not want to grow at the detriment to the service we can provide our clients.

Last July we moved into a swanky new office at Old St Yard, part of White Collar Factory, taking out a 10 year lease on nearly 9000 ft2 office space over 2 floors. We have sublet one floor until March 2019 but it has been a large investment and real commitment to the future growth of the company.

 Our new office at Old Street Yard

Projects

Our projects on client site have become much larger programmes of work with much greater complexity that needs solving. We continue to work with large blue-chip corporates and have continued to bring a refreshing alternative to our much larger Tier 1 competitors. We bring a progressive delivery approach with cutting edge technology and great customer experience to deliver great digital products. But we also really drive a transformation in our clients’ businesses, helping them to build a better culture, grow and develop internal capability across the globe and changing their attitude towards customer centricity and what it means. We have become the driving force for helping our clients to build all of the things required (people, technology, processes, culture, politics etc.) to achieve continuous deployment into production and as a result can help them deliver real value into the hands of their customers at a speed, quality and cost that are magnitudes better than the much larger professional services companies that they have traditionally sourced.

Recently the CIO of one of our larger banking clients was quoted as saying the following: 

“We have to get what Red Badger are providing. With highly skilled teams, they are doing what the big consultancies who have been in here for years just can’t do or translate into meaningful outcomes. This is the first time in two decades of banking that I’ve seen a transformation actually look like it might succeed.”

Our reputation of always delivering quality has resulted in a really interesting roster of new clients with some great challenges for us to solve in the next months and years.

Codifying our Culture

Another huge part of our journey to becoming a more mature, established company has been a culmination of 2 years of hard work, focusing on our company culture. As you grow, your employees have less face time with the founders who were core to the creation of the culture that embodies the company. So we have done a large amount of work to really define what it means to be a Badger. We have empowered our employees to define our culture from the bottom-up and have then built all of the pieces of our company around it. A Culture Committee has also been set up with some volunteer employees participating to discuss all things culture, current issues and how to improve it. If you get it right and you build a great culture, with an empowered workforce, you will be able to unleash unprecedented amounts of ambition, courage, creativity and collaboration in your company. I feel like this is a key reason we are  where we are today. There is still a lot of work to be done here as culture is an ever evolving thing but we are constantly focused on making it better. 

Our dedication to our culture has also resulted in us creating a brand new role, Director of People and Culture. Sari, our long serving Chief Design Officer will slowly be transitioning into this role over the next few months which presents a really great opportunity for Sari and Red Badger. We are super excited as Sari is the epitome of our culture and we couldn’t think of a better person to be taking on responsibility of such a core function of the business.
 

 Sari Griffiths, our Chief Design Officer at Red Badger

Social Value

The social value initiative continues to go from strength to strength. This was the brainchild of Lani at our company day in Leipzig in 2016. With the help of a dedicated committee which Lani chairs, between them, they have done some amazing things. To name but a few, the list of projects includes, partnering with MIND as our main partner for social value projects, setting up a GaYE (give as you earn) scheme for which we have received the Platinum Payroll Giving Quality Mark Award, donating all old laptops to Code Your Future a non-for-profit coding school for refugees as well as teaching them to code (A shout out to Matt Paul specifically for his efforts here), working with the Anthony Nolan Trust and we are also building the mobile applications for the London Pride Festival this year, a React Native project might I add. Have a read of this blog on pride and get in touch if you would like to help out. The first version of the apps are about to go live but there is still plenty to do.

The successes of our social value task force have resulted in Lani awarded this year with an entry in the BIMA 100 as a Champion for Good. Check out the BIMA 100 Class of 2018 here. We are immensely proud of Lani. We are equally proud of the rest of the team that have been involved in our many social value projects over the last two years. The team that have been involved include… Harri Adams, Natalie Lappage, Laura Hasting, Dom Piatek, Andy Cumine, Andy Craig, Sari Griffiths, Jen Spottiswoode, Matt Paul, Sam Griffiths, Shelley Quinn and Sean Gabriel. Michaela Dennis and Emma Walker are also new joiners to the social value team. A formidable team.

 Anyd and Lani at Bima100

Investing in the future

We are in the midst of three year planning right now. This for us is not an exercise that we will do once every three years but rather we intend to always be looking 3 years ahead, looking at what is happening in the industry and how we can adapt to best serve the challenges our clients will be facing in three years time. We are also looking at the next phase of growth and how we need to structure our business to drive it successfully. 

We’ve expanded our sales and marketing teams with Andrea Moore coming in as CMO. I’m sure Andrea won’t mind me calling her an industry veteran with 20+ years of marketing experience, not least as Marketing Director for Levi’s, Andrea has built up a great team over the last 12 months that should be able to support the marketing efforts of the business as we grow over the next 3 years. We have also brought in our first dedicated sales person in Ingrid Olmesdahl as Client Services Director. 
 

We have increased the size of the community team with Laura Hasting and Becca Evans now dedicated to Red Badger’s community. They have been instrumental in maintaining great relationships with the community and providing them with real value. They continue to manage the React London Community and have also launched a brand new meetup called “welovetech.london”. This is a series of events that will provide thought leadership on a range of different technologies rather than being focused on one. Our first event, “We Love Peer To Peer Web” was held in March with Paul Frazee who works on a new peer-to-peer browser called Beaker as a guest speaker. Watch the interview here or check out our events page for upcoming events.

Without revealing too much, the outcomes of 3 year planning will also include a re-structure, moving to a devolved model with empowered MD’s responsible for separate P&Ls. This will be an alternative management model based on adaptive systems. 
 

New Leadership

The new structure will see Shelley Quinn our Chief Delivery Officer changing roles to become Managing Director, UK. Shelley will ultimately be responsible for all of the separate devolved business units. Shelley has been instrumental in Red Badger’s growth in the last few years and is ready for the next step up into this role with much larger  responsibility.

 Shelley, Julian and James

Julian Osman, currently Tech Director who has been running some of our larger accounts will be taking responsibility as MD of our first business unit (which is yet to be named) reporting into Shelley. This is an exciting new challenge for Julian and equally exciting for us.

We are also adding new competencies to support new value propositions. The first stage of this has been the recruitment of James Muldoon from E-Capacity as Director of Insights, our very first real Doctor! James will be focused on helping our clients to optimise their businesses based on data.

There is lots of positive change at Red Badger right now including other changes to leadership. Most of the changes I cannot reveal for now but it is very exciting times indeed.

Recognition

Although we do not judge ourselves by awards it is always nice to get some recognition for all of the hard work our employees have put in this year. We are very proud to be included for the first time in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list, The E-Consultancy Top 100 Digital Agencies, entering in at #62, The Tech Track 100 for the 2nd consecutive year, raising 11 places to #31, The Financial Times 1000: Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies entering at #181 and The City AM Leap 100. We have also been finalists in a number of other awards such as BIMA’s Entrepreneurial Business of the Year, BIMA’s Technology Impact and Technology Retailer of the Year in the Tech Awards by Retail Week.

 Our awards on the fireplace

All of this seems like just reward for a group of employees that are so dedicated and passionate about what they do.

Time to Celebrate

And to celebrate our successes and to say thank you to all of our brilliant employees, after every great year, we like to celebrate together by having a big summer party. This has become a bit of a tradition at Red Badger. In 2015 we hired Osea Island in the estuary of the River Blackwater. In 2016 we hired a castle in Leipzig and flew everyone on two planes to Germany for a weekend. In 2017, we flew everyone to the amazing Obonjan in Croatia. This year, we’ll be celebrating in the Al Limón Ecolodge in the South of Spain just outside of Malaga. It's set in a national park with meadows and acres of fruit orchards, plus an ecological vegetable patch providing fresh organic food. It should be a great place to get some sun, have a party and relax over a long weekend. We cannot wait.  

  Al Limón Ecolodge in the South of Spain  Al Limón Ecolodge in the South of Spain

 

We have done so much in the last year that I cannot capture it all, but hopefully this gives you a snapshot of some of the things that we have been up to. I still can’t believe we are 8 years old. It’s good to look back and appreciate where we have come from and what we have achieved. But right now, it’s very much about looking forward to the next horizon to see where we can take Red Badger and we’ll be having lots of fun along the way. Keep in touch as we’d love you to share the journey with us and of course we are always hiring great people. If you are interested in being a Badger, check out our jobs page here.