February Supper Club with Ricky Nicol of Commsworld

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  • Edinburgh Supper Club
     4 February 2020
     6:00 pm - 10:00 pm



Ricky Nicol started his career in 1978 as a telecoms engineer with GEC Reliance where he spent 8 years before moving on to Lander Alarms and Dial Telecom. In 1994 he co-founded Commsworld, one of the UK’s most successful and profitable Information & Communication Technologies services organisations.  It provides connectivity, cloud, security, unified comms, and IT infrastructure services to the public and private sectors. Key client relationships include Taylor Wimpey, Skyscanner and Edinburgh Airport.

Commsworld have built and are expanding the largest independently owned Next Generation Network in the UK and have done this with no external funding or debts. It has 110 staff based across its offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, London and Aberdeen. For the financial year ending December 2018, it recorded revenues of £21.5M – a 41% increase on the previous 12 months. EBITDA grew from £2.3m in 2018 to over £4m in 2019.

In December 2019, mid-market private equity house Lloyds Development Capital (LDC) completed a record-making double digit investment in Commsworld in a deal giving them a 50% equity stake in the business. The investment from LDC will help the existing management team to build on the success of the business in recent years and bring its super-fast and resilient connectivity to more organisations across Scotland and the UK.

Over the past 26 years since founding Commsworld, Ricky grew the value of Commsworld from £2m to circa £50m over a 5 year period.  He continually strived to build a team of high achieving, highly motivated colleagues across all sections of the business.  He actively promotes an open door policy, encouraging his staff to challenge him; he strongly believes it’s the people within the company that make the difference.  He understands that business success is a team game and whilst an entrepreneur leader is required, it’s the team which builds the business.

In January 2006, Ricky was diagnosed with cancer with a 50/50 chance of survival.  This was just at the time that he was starting the evolution of the business which included buying out his co-founder and realigning the business to be a network focused organisation.

He was out of the business for one year undergoing intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy, all the while planning the future from home.  Facing death increased Ricky’s ambition and drive and he realised that he had something special in Commsworld.  

The telecoms industry is very tumultuous and has seen many changes over the past couple of decades.  In 2014 Ricky voted against his entire Commsworld board to enforce a strategy of staying strong in the face of incredible challenges by attempting to break into the public sector and corporate enterprise markets.  In August 2015, he was proven correct with the announcement of a milestone contract with CGI to be a key provider in Edinburgh Council’s ICT contract worth £12M.

Under Ricky’s guidance, Commsworld has become a driving force behind the rollout of high-speed fibre broadband services.  It teamed up with digital infrastructure provider CityFibre to bring about a 150km fibre optic network that put Edinburgh on the map as a Gigabit City.  To those of us not in the know, that means enjoying unlimited bandwidth and gigabit speed!  17,000 businesses have the opportunity to use the network & Commsworld have also been instrumental in helping Glasgow and Aberdeen gain Gigabit City status.

While Scotland is creating Ferraris of tech giants such as Skyscanner, such businesses can’t drive on the roads if the connectivity isn’t up to par.  It’s like taking a Ferrari through mud.

Commsworld has continued to win major public sector contracts and has acquired a cloud services business.  They have also expanded their Fluency network to create what is highlighted as the UK’s largest, independently owned, ultra-fast optical core network.

Here’s Ricky’s favourite quote:

Success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan, someone has to be the leader and take the risks.” 

Incredibly humble despite all his success, Ricky is the epitome of a true entrepreneur … driven, passionate, not afraid to take on the big boys, nor to take risks.  We look forward to Ricky sharing his amazing journey with us – the ups, the downs and what he has learnt along the way.