When Arrk first started way back in 1998 the development of sophisticated, enterprise strength digital products and services using ultra-distributed teams was, to say the least, uncharted waters. Not that that stopped us from trying !
Our very first project was a large-scale online digital marketplace built using Oracle and Sun technologies. Sadly, the dot.com for which it was built is no longer with us, but the memories of those involved are still strong.
Home is where the office is
Like all good start-ups, our humble beginnings were at home. Just as Apple started in Steve Job’s bedroom in Silicon Valley, for us the top floor of Julian’s large Victorian semi in central Manchester was where all the magic happened. We had nothing but half a dozen old desks, two Sun servers, an ISDN line, a UPS, a bunch of PCs and some very bright, enthusiastic people.
Like all good start-ups we were determined to keep costs low and one of Julian’s abiding memories was watching one of our new found friends from India programming in fingerless gloves! We delivered phase one of our first project and quickly gained an order for phase two – and a new customer. Things got hectic. At that time much of our money and attention was being ploughed into developing our links with India and figuring out how to create the ‘best of both worlds’ organisation that Arrk is today.
The dot.com blues
The year 2001 saw a downturn in fortunes for everything web/digital related and Arrk, like many other technology companies, broadened its outlook a little. We engaged in a wider range of projects using more diverse technologies and working for a bunch of Customers from market sectors other than dot.coms.
Our first proper office
About this time we decided that it was time to get serious about our ultra-distributed model and so we did our second start-up, this time in Bombay. Arrk India opened on our Founders Day, 3rd June 2002 . We even had a brand new, grown-up office to go with it.
What’s the meaning of life?
In early 2003 we got involved in the corporate social responsibility movement and also in an early incarnation of the Institute for Collaborative Working which produced the draft standard eventually adopted by BSI as the standard for Collaborative Business Relationships (BS11000). In 2004 we defined our first ‘Stakeholder Charter’ and set up the Arrk Foundation .
Back to our roots
The following few years saw rapid growth for Arrk and in 2006 we decided it was time to pause for thought. We had started life with two challenges; firstly how to build an ultra-distributed, Customer focused team with a collaborative innovation culture and secondly how to use this to design and develop large-scale digital products that resulted in best-value outcomes for our Customers.
Like many others, following the dot.com crash we had strayed a little from our initial path and had become involved in a wider range of technologies and solution areas. We therefore decided that we should get back to basics (return to our roots you could say) and re-focus our business on pure-play digital products and services.
The future’s bright, the future’s purple
Following the launch of our then new brand (Arrk 2.0 as we called it) things got busier than ever. Today the global IT services industry has matured, people can now see that there is ‘no such thing as a free lunch’ with the offshore model. As a result more and more Customers are coming to us to learn about the best-value benefits of our hybrid, ultra-distributed model. Further, our deep knowledge and expertise in lean/agile and the delivery of digital products and services has served us well as the digital revolution has picked up speed, driving ever faster and wider social, political, economic, industrial and cultural change.
Our vision today is to build a £100M business delivering outstanding imaginative software that improves lives and we believe this to be highly achievable. At Arrk we look forward to an exciting, bright future.
Julian Howison & Sonal Nagda