In speaking up for smaller resellers ‘left to fend for themselves’, Viegli owner Robert Nunn could not be clearer on his intent to transition traditional players to the hosted world.
The formation of Viegli as a comms channel distributor in April this year has sparked a triggering of demand for its Unify OpenScape Business S platform proposition, which Nunn says he has made easy for resellers to sell and support, together with Call2Teams, which allows users to connect any IP capable PBX to MS Teams, creating a rounded hosted proposition. “We’re delivering great results and our immediate target is to get to 1,000 net new endpoints a month,” stated Nunn.
“We also continue to see growth in Call2Teams and these two products will remain our focus for the foreseeable future. At the moment we’re one of the best kept secrets in comms. I’m pretty sure that’s about to change. I hope that innovative vendors will see Viegli’s channel as a good home for their products.”
Viegli was formed as an idea in 2008 and became the vehicle for Nunn and his former business partner to work together from January 2012. Nunn took full ownership in January 2019. “One of our larger clients going into liquidation in December 2018 was the catalyst for the change in ownership and direction,” he explained. “We spent all of 2019 reorganising and have now moved into a great space in 2020.”
Until this year growth had been relatively modest with turnover around the £1.1 million mark. “Bearing in mind we only moved into the channel space in April we are forecasting much faster growth and I expect turnover in 2020/21 to be in the £2.5 million region,” added Nunn.
“Since April we have onboarded approximately 65 resellers and we’re forecasting that to be in the hundreds by Christmas this year. So far we’re being well received and I see this trend continuing.”
Nunn’s immediate focus is on onboarding and supporting resellers. “The work we do in the first three to six months of the relationship should make them self-sufficient thereafter,” he added. “As the portfolio grows we will bring experts into the business that can support the reseller. The main challenge is to maintain the level of service we provide with the increased volumes of business. We’ve addressed this in the main with technology, speeding up the delivery process. We can now hand over a system to a reseller in as little as 15 minutes. Our core is on solid state servers and equates to VMware. The service we provide is bespoke for every client instance, there is no shared resource.”
Nunn first clicked with the comms industry in 1996 when working for Olympus, which is known for cameras rather than phones. But its business comms division had a range of phones and it developed a ‘smart phone’ which automatically prefixed calls with an LCR code. “I’ve been in and around comms ever since, fully involved in the single line dialler revolution in the early noughties, selling eight million of them across Europe and the UK,” stated Nunn. “I’ve always wanted to get back to being a channel facing business rather than end user, and the Covid-19 pandemic and Call2Teams gave me that opportunity to change the business direction and move into the distributor space.
We’re one of the best kept secrets in comms. I’m pretty sure that’s about to change
“We’ve invested heavily in all the areas that I felt let down by with our own supply chain. My team includes a marketing resource for instance, helping resellers to create their own branded flyers and materials; and our billing team will white label bills for our resellers. We just want to build relationships and not simply box shift. I’m seeing a large chunk of the channel left alone to fend for themselves. We are bringing expertise into these smaller resellers and investing in relationship building.”
Growth to date has been organic and Nunn indicated that Viegli’s portfolio will expand. He’s already investigating 5G opportunities and seeking to help smaller resellers with Ethernet-based circuits. “While my team is relatively small we have expertise in everything we do,” he added. “As we grow we’ll need to add commodity items like headsets into our portfolio. That would just make things easier for our resellers by having a single point of purchase.”
He also noted that Covid-19 has changed the way we all work, and while web meetings have been around for a long time, it’s only in the past six months that we’ve seen the common adoption of remote working. “Our industry needs to accept that flexibility and agility need to be at the forefront of everything we do,” said Nunn. “The ability for us to support the reseller in these areas will steer us naturally into the space we want to fill. I see on a daily basis the legacy telecoms resellers wondering how to transition from traditional on-premise models to hosted. That transition has been accelerated significantly because of Covid-19 but these resellers especially are going through a huge learning curve.
“I also think the industry needs to take a long look at itself. Things like self-renewing contracts and seven year leasing will (and should) become a thing of the past. Everything we do is on 30 day rolling terms and is handset inclusive. My model is entirely scalable so I would hope that in five years time we have around 100,000 endpoints out there with a base of 300-plus resellers. I’m not driven by financial numbers, but the business will be significant.”
Just a minute with Robert Nunn...
Simon Sinek and my dad! Simon because I love his enthusiasm and zest for life; my dad because he taught me that nothing is more rewarding than working hard.
What do you fear most?
The biggest risk you have taken?
Moving into the channel because I genuinely believe we can make a difference.
What possession could you not live without?
My kettle. I go into shock if I don’t have two cups of tea an hour.
Best piece of advice you have been given?
Don’t take yourself too seriously. It genuinely isn’t about you!
Who do you admire most in the channel:
Virtual1 CEO Tom O’Hagan. A seriously good guy building an impressive business.
If you weren’t in the ICT industry what would you be doing?
A groundsman at a cricket club.
One example of something you have overcome:
I broke my foot in half which stopped my football career. That was unpleasant.
Name three ideal dinner guests:
Simon Sinek, George Best and Ben Stokes. Enthusiasm, genius, genius. What a dinner that would be.
Self-renewing contracts and spurious charging to clients should be banned.
Tell us something about yourself we don’t know:
I’m a decent cricket umpire.
Your biggest achievement?
Surviving a 200k hit in December 2018 and still being here.
Your main strength and what could you work on?
I am good at solving problems. But I need to update our CRM from time to time.