A Match Made In The Clouds
What happens when you match a career ‘clever person’ with a career ‘let’s have a go’ person? Great things! As we found out when we caught up with Art of Cloud Co-Founders Michael Fleming and Ben Stevenson at their office in Round Foundry Media Centre, Leeds.
Going into business with someone is likely to be one of the most important partnerships you’ll ever form. Much like deciding to start a family, buying a house, or forming an alliance against the empire (cue Star Wars music), you need to have each other’s back and bring different skills to the table so that together you’re stronger.
The value of a well-matched partnership as a driver for business success shone through when we chatted with the Art of Cloud team from their base in Leeds earlier this month.
Business partners Ben and Michael were just 29 and 26 years old respectively when they launched the Salesforce consultancy Art of Cloud from a small office in Chapel Allerton. The two met whilst working for Harrogate-based FinancialForce. Much like Art of Cloud, FinancialForce delivered services that partner with world leading CRM platform Salesforce, and it was here that Ben and Michael first connected with each other and began mining the huge potential of this platform.
Ben explained; “There are countless possibilities to support businesses using Salesforce. It’s a market leading platform used by sales teams to drive revenue at a global scale. Once you understand it well and are certified to build on it, you can create exponential value to the businesses using it.”
After leaving school aged just 17, Ben launched into a successful and varied sales career, landing in the same team as Michael in 2013. Michael had followed a more academic route, graduating from Nottingham Trent University with a Computer Science Degree in 2013. But whilst their roads travelled may have been different, the pair quickly learnt that their shared passions and complementary abilities were a recipe for success.
Michael said: “We started hanging out, going to the pub after work, then climbing together, and later we holidayed together. We quickly learnt that we were similar in lots of ways – both curious, tenacious and ambitious. But different as well. I tend to have a good head for logic and how things work. I can absorb large volumes of information and apply it. Ben is more hands on. He’ll have his head under the car bonnet and be looking around, making sense of it all before we’ve turned to that page in the manual. In fact, that was one of the first projects we worked on together. I needed to get my brakes done on my car and Ben was like, you do know we could probably do that ourselves. So, we did!”
Whilst the pair were both happy with the culture and work-life balance their shared employment delivered, a small one-off consultancy project they partnered on opened their eyes to the potential of going it alone. In 2018 Art of Cloud launched with a single mission; to implement simple, bespoke technology solutions that would help businesses grow and become more profitable. By the summer of 2018 they’d outgrown their first office and moved to Round Foundry Media Centre with the aim of expanding their team and client base further. They have since up-sized to new office suites in the same building twice and the team itself has doubled in size each year.
Art of Cloud is a registered Salesforce partner and thanks to their track-record of profitable results for clients, the talented team they’ve recruited and the regular training and certifications they invest in, they have an outstanding reputation for excellence in their field. The lean businesses model they employ (outsourcing all non-delivery functions) has kept their services competitive despite their growth, helping secure new customers year on year.
Ben and Michael plan to recruit to another eight posts in the next 12 months and will be looking to up-size to yet another new office within Round Foundry Media Centre later this year.
Despite their rapid growth and dazzling success, Ben and Michael still make the time to hang out together tinkering with engines like they’d done back in the day. It’s just that now there are even more of them with their heads under the bonnet, and between them, they’ve probably read and re-written their own version of the Haynes manual several times over.
If you’d like to learn more about Art of Cloud and get in touch with the team, they’d love to hear from you.
Round Foundry Media Centre is managed by property management and urban regeneration company Creative Space Management. If you’re interested in learning more about the available spaces at Round Foundry media Centre, and the benefits of locating within this thriving digital and tech community in the heart of Leeds city centre, please get in touch with the centre team today.