Charles Nasser scoops Entrepreneur of the Year award

Datacentre and Cloud Awards recognise Claranet founder

Claranet Chief Executive Charles Nasser was named Entrepreneur of the Year (international category) last night, taking the title at the sixth annual Datacentre and Cloud Awards in a ceremony at London’s One Whitehall Place.

Nasser, who founded Claranet in 1996 aged 26, has seen the company evolve and grow into the largest provider of cloud services to the European mid-market, with annual revenues of £124 million. In November 2012 Claranet acquired Star. The acquisition saw Claranet expand on its expertise in providing managed networks and hosting services and capitalise on Star’s track record in unified communications, remote desktops, and security, as well as giving it a strong regional network of offices across the UK.

Over the last 17 years, the nature of Claranet’s business has evolved to take advantage of technological developments and the changing demands of its customers, Nasser explained:

When I set up Claranet in 1996, we were providing connectivity to home consumers and small businesses who were looking to get online in their droves in the early days of the Internet. By the turn of the millennium, we had annual revenues of £11 million from a standing start. But I knew we were at risk of being crowded out of the market by bigger players, and so I took the decision to transform the company into a corporate ISP, focusing on business customers. Several years of organic growth, and a number of key acquisitions in the UK and on the Continent, brought revenues of £70 million. Then in 2006 we evolved again into a managed services provider, making an early play on mid-sized corporate customers’ need for secure and reliable cloud services.”

Throughout Claranet’s 17-year history, Nasser has maintained the company’s financial independence, pursuing a policy of organic growth and acquisitions without bringing in funding from institutional investors. Explaining his entrepreneurial approach, Nasser said: “My view has always been that investment cycles and the shorter-term returns demanded by institutional investors and shareholders can inhibit long-term strategy for profitability, product development, and meeting customer needs. Claranet’s growth has been achieved by reinvesting profits or, as in the case of the recent acquisition of Star, through the use of institutional lenders,” he said.

For further information about Claranet and its integrated network, hosting, and communications managed services provision, visit www.claranet.co.uk.

To find out more about the Datacentre and Cloud Awards and the 2013 award winners, visit www.datacentreawards.com.

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