EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist: Patrick McAliskey, Novosco
Belfast-based managed cloud provider’s clients include two Premier League clubs
Novosco founder Patrick McAliskey: “We have plans to increase our workforce to 300 and our turnover to over £50 million.” Photograph: Richie Stokes
Patrick McAliskey is an experienced chief executive who founded Novosco more than 20 years ago. An electronics technician by background, he spent a period working for the RAF before returning to Northern Ireland to set up the company, which is a managed cloud provider with clients that include 15 of the largest NHS health trusts in the UK and two Premier League clubs.
Patrick plays an active role in the commercial, leadership, PR and talent-management areas of Novosco, which employs 150 people.
Outside of work, he is trying to reinvent physical education in primary schools through his Healthy Kidz initiative, which aims to improve children’s health and well-being.
Describe your business model and what makes your business unique.
Novosco is a managed cloud provider. We have delivered enterprise-level hosting services to mid-market organisations in the UK and Ireland for the past 20 years and our unrivalled, industry-leading service levels have allowed us to keep all our customers ever since. We advise on and deliver the industry’s best technologies for each customer’s specific need. Our consultants expertly choose the most appropriate solutions by leveraging a portfolio of public cloud, private cloud and a combination of platforms.
What is your greatest business achievement to date?
Without a doubt, growing a fantastic team at Novosco. This has allowed us to recently win our biggest ever contract, to grow our business significantly and to win a wide range of awards.
What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?
In 2011, we decided that to continue to significantly grow we needed to look outside of the island of Ireland. This was a big moment for us. So we took a risk and relocated some of our key team members to England to grow the business there, and it has paid off.
Describe your growth funding path.
Novosco is totally self-financed, and we used our own resources to finance a recent acquisition. We plan to continue to grow organically and through self-financed acquisition.
Where would you like your business to be in three years?
We have plans to increase our workforce to 300 and our turnover to over £50 million. A key focus is to continue to grow a stronger and stronger team and to add additional skills, particularly in relation to software development and security.
Have you started to feel the effects of the economic upturn within your sector/industry?
We are fortunate to have experienced consistent growth throughout our 20-year history. We are though starting to see private-sector businesses investing even more in their IT infrastructure, both because they realise that it is vital to their business but also because they have the confidence to invest.
What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?
Growing our team beyond the 100 mark was challenging. We have always had a close-knit team and quite a personal culture, where everybody knows everyone else. Growing beyond 100 people, and having team members in different offices across the UK and Ireland was a challenge in terms of maintaining the same company culture. But it’s something we have worked hard on and have continued to adapt to.
What was your biggest business mistake?
Not building the business outside of the island of Ireland earlier than we did. I should have had the confidence to do it at an earlier stage.
How will your market look in three years?
Much more ‘cloudy’! Public cloud providers will be much more visible and the landscape will be very competitive. But Novosco is well placed to compete with the biggest and the best.