Ever find yourself wondering how a startup makes the difficult decision to embark on the scale up journey? Is there a blueprint to success? Will it be obvious when your startup should begin scaling up?

Here at TechSPARK, we thought the best way to illustrate the answers to these common questions would to create a series of Scale Up Stories, featuring some of the South West’s most successful Scale Ups. Today we have Huboo – the Bristol-based software-driven fulfilment provider.

Huboo was founded in 2017 by Martin Bysh and Paul Dodd. They originally launched to help start-ups and SME businesses get their products to customers quickly and cost-effectively.

Martin explains more: “We are an award-winning multichannel ecommerce fulfilment provider. We help ecommerce retailers to grow their business by taking care of all their fulfilment needs, integrating free & fast with most online marketplaces. Our unique hub model means that we can combine the lowest like-for-like costs in the market with bestinclass service.

While many businesses find it hard to access efficient, cost-effective fulfilment to support their e-Commerce businesses, Huboo utilises software to drive a smarter, more productive and human-centric warehouse.

Raising the bar

Often raising finance can be a barrier to scaling up for startups, but Huboo has excelled in getting investors on side. Martin tells us, “Since 2017 we have raised £18m over two rounds of funding, a seed round in 2019 and Series A funding in September 2020.”

In just 18 months, the business has grown from two employees, 60 clients and £20,000 in monthly recurring revenues (MRR) to 120 employees, over 500 clients and £800k MRR – a growth rate of 40x.

Martin explains how the Series A funding has been a fundamental catalyst to their journey: “This helped propel the transition from startup to scaleup allowing us to invest in high performance tech and exceptional people, creating 100s of jobs in the South West and continuing our national expansion plans.”

This funding was also the most defining moment of Huboo’s scale up journey. Martin says, “Raising £14m in Series A funding really illustrated the scale of support and confidence from investors in our long term growth plans and aspirations.

“With upcoming expansion plans both nationally and internationally, we’re sure there will be many more defining moments coming up.”

But it’s not all been plain sailing. Martin says, “The biggest difficulty in scaling is growing a disciplined, committed work force at speed (from 2 to 300 in 20 months). It’s no secret that maintaining a great company culture is crucial, and Martin says, “Focussing on culture and L&D have been the keys to making it work.

Making the right decisions

When we asked why did Huboo choose Bristol to expand from, Martin tells us, “The South West has long been a hub for tech and innovation, which has accelerated in recent years with the investment in local enterprises and infrastructure, such as the nearby Science Park, is testament to the growth opportunities here in the region.

“Scaling up also wouldn’t have been possible without having great people here, and thankfully the South West is blessed with some incredible talent.”

Martins best piece of advice to founders and startups looking to take their business to the next level is, “ Build a solid foundation. 

Review your business to see the aspects that are repetitive and make it your goal to automate them, so your focus remains on growth-related activities.”

Thanks to Martin for taking the time to talk to us today! Check out Huboo’s website and their TechSPARK company page for more info.