Coms is on the acquisition trail after buying two businesses this year and more than doubling its workforce.
The company’s growth is spearheaded by former O-bit Telecom chief Dave Breith, who was drafted in January to revive the firm. Also key to Coms’ success is corporate development director Paul Sweetland, who joined in May 2012 after four years as MD of Obsidian Telecoms.
Coms has developed its product portfolio from a hosted switch to all things comms, including broadband and data networks. The company has grown from 17 people to 40 staff this year, with more to be recruited in the coming months.
Coms has three ‘pillars’ of the business in which it is targeting growth - acquisition, direct sales, and indirect sales. It has already built a well-defined acquisition strategy. ‘We are acquisitive and have a solid plan,’ Sweetland says.
As part of its ambitious growth plans, Coms is on the hunt to acquire a few small firms to increase its own size. ‘This will incrementally grow the size of Coms and we will then target larger organisations,’ Sweetland says.
The firm’s direct sales strategy is to target existing customers large and small with new products. Meanwhile, Coms is targeting resellers in a bid to grow in the indirect channel (see box).
But the ‘jewel’ of the company is the hosted platform, ‘which is carrier class and comparable to something like BroadSoft’, according to Sweetland. The telephony platform, called Porta One, is the tool ‘that helps us to scale indefinitely’, Sweetland adds. The firm’s plug and play, scalable VoIP solution now has between 8,000 and 9,000 users.
It works alongside a CRM interface portal called Ask Merlin. ‘They are fully integrated and both are fully scalable,’ says Sweetland. ‘The CRM platform is built specifically for telecoms and everything can be added and automated.
‘The market is consolidated now; SMEs want a telecoms provider,’ he adds. ‘We have the core platform; we call it “integrated mobile”.’
It was Coms’ acquisition of Sweetland’s former company Obsidian Telecoms’ customer base that kicked off a transformation programme that saw changes in the board and a host of new acquisitions.
Breith was introduced into the business as CEO in January, when he began to create a plan to grow the business through acquisitions. ‘The company was listed on the stock market and had no debt so it was really straightforward for us to buy other businesses,’ says Sweetland. ‘All that was done in January  and it’s ongoing,’ he says, adding: ‘The volume of shares traded since Dave got in is monumentally different; that says a lot.’
In March this year, the firm bought the database and customers of World Telecom for £50,000 payable in shares. Then in May, it bought the customers and other assets of ADSL24, including almost 4,000 broadband customers - as well as its cloud based mail and hosting - for £800,000.
The firm is also involved in the Government’s G-Cloud and is accredited on G-Cloud 3 for hosted lines and Polycom.
Coms is currently working on a Government initiative to get social housing tenants onto the internet - under the “digital inclusion” programme.
Sweetland says: ‘Over time we’ll be doing more of that type of business;
we have ambitious plans.’
Coms targets resellers with Parnter Programme
Coms is utilising its Partner Programme to acquire suitable resellers and grow its presence in the indirect channel.
‘From a channel point of view it’s a land grab of as many resellers as possible with the Partner Programme,’ Sweetland says.
As the firm is streamlined, Sweetland said it is simple to join the programme, with less hoops to jump through than its rivals.
Coms’ acquisition programme makes it easy for the company to acquire customer bases, he says. ‘By default, the partner programme is also a great opportunity for us to buy resellers.’
He adds: ‘Coms are unique in that there aren’t many companies around like us – we are genuinely looking to grow via partners and acquisitions and we want partners to capitalise from our base. We make it easy for people to do business with us.’
As part of its growth drive, the company is recruiting for both the indirect and direct sales teams. Tim Loveday, head of indirect sales, and Gary Day, head of direct sales – who was previously sales director at Obsidian – are both in the process of building teams.
Coms will launch a wholesale offering to the reseller channel later this year.