Twenty-five years is a long stretch for any business. For an IT company, it’s an absolute age.
So much has changed since Matthew Geyman started Intersys. The Internet was barely up and running. Cloud computing wasn’t a thing. Trojans fought against the Greeks and not your computer.
But one thing hasn’t changed: Matthew’s original conviction that Intersys should focus on service not sales. If this sounds like old-fashioned talk, it is: 25 years old to be precise. But this honest and straightforward approach is still the founding principle of a forward-looking company.
Here’s our story…
The scene: The City of London in 1996
Matthew Geyman was working as an IT manager for an insurance underwriting company. This period saw an immense technological shake up – basically the genesis of office PCs, networking and the Internet, taking over from mainframe computing. Matthew realised he wasn’t experiencing the whole picture in his current role and wanted to get involved with the newer technologies.
How to start an IT company
Matthew took this desire to embrace groundbreaking IT to its logical conclusion: he would start his own IT consultancy and outsourcing business.
Three principles emerged:
1) Innovation. In-house IT departments often encouraged a culture of doing the same thing, day in, day out. By contrast, outsourced IT providers constantly experience a huge variety of tech, different and new approaches to IT, plus offer progressive strategies to their clients.
2) Integrity. Matthew observed far too many ‘IT sales organisations’ whose motivation was only to make money. Sad to say, there was a huge gap in the market for a business with integrity, that put solutions over sales.
3) Accountability. Providing a service, or a project, means ‘you’re only as good as your last job’. If you’re to stay in business, every job must be high quality. Matthew saw too many problems, project failures and security vulnerabilities caused by people who didn’t feel they needed to justify their existence — and he wanted clients to know they had a better choice.
With these principles in mind, Intersys was born.
Enter Motorcycling Matt, the IT nerd
There was a real pioneering and Heath Robinson vibe to those early days. Matthew hurtled around Central London on his Triumph motorbike, a zippier mode of transport than car or Tube: ideal for a man determined to visit as many clients per day as humanly possible. His first office, meanwhile, adjoined his favourite pub in Epping Forest. It had an actual serving hatch through to the public bar (something Matthew swears he didn’t know about beforehand). Soon after, he rented a converted loft in east London. Within weeks, it was packed with servers.
How to run several programs simultaneously without crashing
Anyone who has started a company (or run computer systems in the 80, 90s and early 2000s) will relate to this next bit. Those early years involved long, hard hours as Intersys gained momentum. Matthew says, ‘You can’t have any time off, because you are someone’s IT department.’
As well as juggling several clients, Matthew was shadowing a mainframe engineer at night (‘for the fun of it’), studying part time at university, and ‘squirreling tech away and experimenting with it’. Plus renovating a house. Oh, and bringing up two kids. We should probably mention that.
The business begins to grow
Intersys became an outsourced IT department for many businesses. Trust and integrity became a major factor in its growth. Looking back on this period, Matthew says, ‘I’d recommend services and products because a client needed them, not because we would make money from them. There were many examples of where we’d tell clients they shouldn’t upgrade and didn’t need our time. My approach was 100% based on client requirements and satisfaction, not on targets — or even getting invoices out (frequently, they were overlooked because the focus was functionality, not finance).’
Meanwhile, in 2003 Intersys began developing bespoke software for the private and public sector. Key to this new service was talented software developer Tony Healey, who initially contracted with Intersys and later became a full-time employee. True coding collaborators, Matthew and Tony would work on 15 software projects together in areas relating to security, risk profiling, recruitment, business continuity and a contracts management system, which was used by three NHS primary care trusts and multiple pharmaceutical companies.
Enter the leadership team…
In 2006, Matthew’s wife, Catherine Geyman, also joined the business (then a handful of contractors and freelancers). Immensely qualified, plus a Chartered Electrical Engineer with a masters in Pharmaceutical Engineering, she brought deep insights into Enterprise organisations, plus an unparalleled knowledge of pharma risk management. She also brought several blue-chip clients.
Matthew’s brother Richard joined in 2007. Richard deepened Intersys’ breadth of technical proficiency and its bond with clients, plus developed the forensic computing and broader product portfolio.
… and the barefoot IT guru
Intersys was growing, but still a smallish concern. Richard and Matthew regularly slept under desks, or in laybys at 4am, too tired to drive home after working at a client’s premises all night. Richard is legendary for driving six hours to a client’s site, only to discover he had forgotten his shoes. A day as a ‘barefoot IT guru’ followed, something he wishes he could forget.
Says Richard about these early days, ‘Looking back it was a great time – as a very small business, we would often find ourselves working until the early hours of the morning, and regularly 7 days per week, but having formed great friendships with many of our loyal clients we enjoyed (almost) every minute! We were a small team, but we were utterly focused on keeping the customer happy with a very tailored personal service. We’re bigger now, but the same principles apply – minus the bare feet…’
Intersys levels up
In 2008, joining the many contractors and freelancers, Intersys recruited its first non-family employee and, in 2009, took on its first ‘proper’ office space. From here, things began to accelerate and the client list grew. Naturally there were challenges. Knowledge sharing between a fast-growing team, scaling up and delivering larger and more complex jobs (i.e. becoming ‘an organisation’) always requires hard work. The basic focus on ‘service not sales’, however, remained.
More clients, more people
In 2014, with around a dozen employees, Intersys took on a couple of large education clients and grew still further. In 2015, Executive Director Mark Kirby joined and combined his superb technical skills with an immensely personable approach that upped the game still further, in terms of expertise and customer service.
By 2015 Intersys had 50 active clients. By 2018 the team had grown to 25. A far cry from one man on a motorcycle back in 1996!
Says Jake Ives, Senior Consultant in Intersys’ professional services division, who joined in 2012, ‘Back when I started, we had only a handful of techs and we mostly dealt with smaller organisations. I’ve seen the business grow to what it is today, and I’m very proud that we still hold the same ethos.’
And we’d like to thank…
Clients appreciated our work and stayed with us. Finally, the industry also looked up and noticed. In recent years, Intersys has picked up European IT and Software Excellence Awards for: Best Government Utilities Solution of the Year in 2018, Best Managed Service Solution of the Year in 2019, and Best Home Working Solution 2021.
Intersys in 2022
As of early 2022, Intersys has 35 employees, helping 100 clients across our core services of IT support, security and consultancy. We work across many industries including Life Sciences, Finance, Tech, Education, Mining and Exploration, and much more. And we’re continuing to grow: taking on more employees and more clients, relaunching our website for 2022…
But something fundamental remains. A final word from the man who started it all. Says Matthew, ‘Where is Intersys now? We’ve not changed in the way we work with customers. We concentrate on solutions not sales; and service and quality over anything commercial. It’s why we are not massive – and perhaps why we don’t want to be. Long-term relationships, trust, a clear and fair billing policy, and a scrupulous approach to new hires are the values we live by. As well as visionary IT, of course! It’s a straightforward approach, it sits well with me and the team, and it works.’