Tom and James have IT nailed

Two Computing and Information Studies graduates who started their business while studying for their degree are celebrating their company’s fifteenth birthday.

Tom Ramirez and James Harrison-Bodle launched Viper IT Solutions when they couldn’t find suitable industry placements to gain work experience in 2001.

They suggested to the university that they start their own company instead. The university was initially hesitant, but Tom and James created their business which continued once they graduated and they are now celebrating 15 years of success.

Tom said: “It is utterly fantastic to still be in a thriving and growing business 15 years later. When we started the company, I don’t think any of us thought it would be as successful, especially as we were only students at the time and had very little commercial experience.“However, all the hard work and effort has paid off. The business has grown and expanded from web design to cover everything from business IT solutions and telephony systems, to computer security and server installation.”

Resourceful undergraduates
Tom and his colleagues were originally supposed to do a 12-month placement as part of their degree course but two of them failed to find placements. The third had a placement which didn’t work out. The idea to start a company was conceived months before and in absence of suitable placements, they asked their tutors if they could start the business. Their tutors gave them the go ahead as long as they could prove they were doing IT work.

Tom, who is based in Brighton, said: “We realised quite quickly that running a business involved a lot more than just doing IT. We had to go out and get sales, advertise, do accounts and so on. It was hard work and not always plain sailing either!

“After university, we decided to keep doing it and since then it has grown. One of the great things is some of our clients are still clients we worked with all those years ago.”

Expansion and growth
The Shoreham-based business has expanded its remit to include a wider and more diverse range of work. We also now have three employees and is looking to take on a fourth. Two of the team are also Brighton graduates – Carl Kirby (Computer Studies BSc(Hons) 2004) and Andrew Addison (Software Engineering BSc(Hons) 2004).

Brighton Titans University of Brighton Viper IT Solutions PICTURE BY JIM HOLDEN 07590 683036

Website design is still a part of what Viper IT does but with working environments becoming much more IT-based they offer a range of services, from sorting out the computing systems in office moves to faster broadband if clients have employees working from home and they need to keep in touch with the main office.

Tom added: “It is very varied and we get to meet lots of interesting people along the way. I particularly enjoy helping clients who think they don’t need much in the way of IT and showing them how much it can help grow their business.

“Take, for example, a manufacturer we worked with recently. They didn’t use IT much and hadn’t updated their systems for 15 years. But by changing their systems they were able to make many of their processes far more efficient, improving production, sales and so on. It is extremely satisfying to be involved in that side of it.

“I am very much looking forward to the next 15 years, hopefully expanding the company even further, taking on more employees and becoming the go-to business for IT needs in Sussex and beyond.”

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