Six Degrees Launches with $94M

Six Degrees Group, formed by British entrepreneur Alastair Mills, is launching with 60 million pounds (about $94 million) in backing from Penta Capital. Six Degrees, which says it already has about 100 staffers and over 1,200 business customers, is focused on managed data services.

British entrepreneur Alastair Mills, less than a year after selling SpiriTel Plc for GBP 37m, is on to his next venture. At SpiriTel, he presented private equity firm Penta Capital with a 70% return on their investment in 12 months and they’re backing him again with a GBP 60m fund. His new company, Six Degrees Group, launched today, already employs almost 100 staff and serves over 1,200 business customers. The Group will be focused on the fast-growing managed data services sector of the ICT marketplace.

In his opening statements as CEO of Six Degrees Group, Mills said: “We’ve gone from nought to 60 million funding in four months which demonstrates that Britain is still open for business, if you take the right model to investors and banks. The Six Degrees Group name was inspired by the ‘six degrees of separation’ legend as we felt it reflected the fact that we live in an always-on, interconnected world. The ties that bind us now are not physical but technical; those who fail to leverage the immediacy and dynamism that this connectedness brings will be left behind.”

In research published today, Six Degrees Group has proved that the 2010s decade marks a tipping point in technology: for the first time ever, our personal tech is better than our work tech. This has given rise to the “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend and is why announcements like the iPhone 5 is mainstream headline news in both consumer and business sectors. Four out of five office workers surveyed now believe their own devices — smartphones, tablets and laptops — are better than the ones given to them by their employers. Nearly half the workforce wants to use their own device to access company information when not at desk or outside office hours. They are bullish about the benefits and they think it will make them more productive, more innovative, more creative and more competitive. They’ll view it as a benefit.

Commenting on the end-user findings, Mills stated: “The BYOD findings are great news for business. Ten years ago it was a perk to give somebody a mobile phone and a laptop; now it’s a hindrance for lots of people so companies are wasting money and draining profits sourcing products their staff don’t need. People are asking to do more work, in their own time, at their own expense, and they think it’s great … if only they can do it on their own device.”

However, findings from business decision makers threaten to scupper this nascent trend before it delivers benefits to the British economy. Four out of ten companies will not permit BYOD, now or in the future. Of those, seven out of ten decision makers would not adopt BYOD even if it guaranteed them improved productivity, increased profits and decreased costs.

In response, Mills commented: “I’m simply staggered by these statistics. The employees of British businesses are innovating furiously: they’re adopting smartphones, smart devices and public cloud services that are changing their lives. But UK plc still thinks it’s the 1990s. They’re telling us that managing what people do and restricting how they do it is more important than output. We are disabling and controlling when we need to be enabling and empowering.”

Six Degrees Group aspires to be a growth engine for British business by striving to be the most admired mid-market provider of managed data services. The Group will seek to do this through innovation. They have already developed a cloud-based voice business continuity and disaster recovery solution — Livenumber — that has seen significant uptake from legal and financial services companies in particular. The Group has also invested in expanding its core network and datacentre assets to improve its reach and capabilities as well as developing in-house expertise in managing web-based services, user profiles and secure workflows to support capabilities like BYOD.

Today, the Group also announces the opening of its newest datacentre, purpose-built to fuel growth in cloud services. Mills made the following remark on this development: “Public cloud services like iCloud and Amazon Web Services have captured the imagination of consumers but these are not enterprise-grade products. Our private cloud is built for business and we see the benefits as being transformational — that’s why we’ve seen nearly 800 percent growth in 12 months in our cloud solutions, and why we’ve made a big investment in more datacentre space to help us grow.”

The target customer base for Six Degrees Group is the circa 90,000 companies in the UK mid-market who employ between 50 and 1,000 staff. The Group also supplies to large corporates including some of the City’s best known investment banks and corporate lawyers. Existing customers include well-known brands like ICAP, Linklaters and GAB Robins. The Group has developed a suite of innovative applications for compliance, information security, change management, BYOD, Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery and business optimisation, all designed to help the mid-market to be more innovative.

Six Degrees Group is also hiring high-performing staff and Mills’ new team includes several former SpiriTel colleagues. Despite the ongoing financial climate, he expects organic headcount growth to be 20 percent per annum.

Mills concludes:
“In January, I sat down with a clean sheet of paper to think about where I should next look to build a business. Cloud-centric convergence is the most exciting growth area in the market so we made that our focus. Nine months later, we’ve raised GBP 60m in funding, one of the largest fundraises in the sector, and we’ve got nearly 100 people, we’re growing at over 20 percent year-on-year, and we’re solving real business challenges. That’s great for our investors and our staff but it’s also great for the country. We’re growing as a company and we’re doing it in technology areas that will spur growth for UK plc. It’s innovation and ideas that will drag Britain out of its slump and that’s what we promise to deliver.”

About Six Degrees Group
Six Degrees Group is a privately owned managed data services provider serving UK mid-market customers. The Group has a converged services portfolio — including datacentre, connectivity, voice and cloud offerings — designed to help companies meet the challenges of a connected, always-on world.