Denis Kaminskiy (Cambridge MBA 2008) is passionate about disrupting public sector computer services – saving the taxpayer a pile of money in the process.
It wasn’t so long ago that Denis Kaminskiy and his colleague Lars Malmquist were facing up to two of the biggest tech giants in the business. As part of their MBA, Kaminskiy and Malmquist undertook a piece of research on cloud computing for BT and Hewlett Packard. “We put it to them that this was a technology revolution, and they should be on top of it,” says Kaminskiy. “They didn’t agree. We reasoned that if the big guys weren’t going to do anything about it, we should do it ourselves.”
So, following completion of their Cambridge MBAs in 2009, Arcus Global was born: a company that takes the benefits of cloud computing – enabling software to run on a remote server rather than just on your PC, meaning it can be accessed anywhere – and makes them relevant and effective to the public sector.
“There’s a piece of software in government which manages just about everything – waste collection, school admission or social care, for example,” says Kaminskiy. “We replace that software, which is often 20 years old, with a modern cloud platform, which allows us to simplify and improve a lot of what they do. That makes it mobile, more powerful and much cheaper. We also provide the consulting support to be able to take advantage of all these improvements – so once we’re done, the public sector can just get on with helping people. We’re like a mini-outsourcer.”
Formerly director of outsourcing procurement at Cadbury’s, and a highly experienced IT professional, Kaminskiy felt that he’d reached the limits in the IT field. An MBA, he decided, would help him move first into consulting, then into starting his own business. However, the business came sooner than he thought. He began his MBA in September 2008, a day after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
“On that first day, they told us: ‘We don’t know what this means, but as far as we can see, the worldwide economy is collapsing’,” he remembers. “So straight away, we were being challenged. Our student cohort started around 25 companies when we left, as there just weren’t any jobs.
“There have been a lot of up-and-down moments for us, but I wouldn’t trade the experience of starting a company for anything,” continues Kaminskiy. “It’s also very rewarding. We are helping the public sector avoid the impact of some of the cuts and to improve their service. Some of the things they do are very humbling – for example, we deal with some probationary trusts that help people with serious drug and alcohol problems who have been in prison.”
And the future is looking bright. The company is likely to grow by around 200 to 300 per cent this financial year, and currently employs 70 people. “We have a lot of social value in our work. We’re growing rapidly, and there’s a lot of potential in what we do.”
Denis is interested in hearing from…
…people who are connected with IT or with delivering services in the public sector, people who provide technology to universities or work within universities, and any MBAs who are interested in potentially working for Arcus. Right now, we are looking for marketing and software development skills, but the most important thing is attitude, start-up mentality and drive.