Meet Tim Dunton, our founder and MD
Tim’s dad brings home an old Mac Classic and a little switch flicks on in Tim’s head. He asks for a modem and starts experimenting with online communication using bulletin board services (BBS). He’s 12 years old. He’s online. And it’s 1992.
Tim starts his first bulletin board service. The precursor to the internet, BBS operates on a tiny scale, but with a strong community angle. His big idea is to charge anyone a subscription to use the service and set up email addresses. As part of it, he registers his first domain name, xnet.co.uk, for just £100.
With dial-up internet quickly seeing off BBS, Tim moves on. At 15, he starts his first business, from his parents’ study, and builds a website for the University of Hertfordshire Business School, where his dad works. The local paper writes an article on him, bringing in work from other businesses, including Cintel, part of the Rank Corporation.
The Times publishes an article on Tim in their online supplement, helpfully including his email address. This generates lots of new leads, including Polycell, and really kicks Global Gold off as a business. Over 20 years later, we’re still working with some of the clients it brought in!
The same year, Tim experiments with online apps, including creating an editorial Apple fan site called Always Apple, which makes money through advertising. He also launches a banner network called UK Banners, which lets small businesses display banners on their websites well before SEO or PPC. It becomes extremely popular, but not financially viable.
Tim sells linkexchange.co.uk, a domain name he picked up during the UK Banners venture. A subsidiary of Microsoft buys it for £5,000 and Tim is quoted in The Times Young Person Rich Kids as one to watch. He’s 16 and doing his GCSEs.
He uses funds raised through Global Gold and domain name sales to start a portal called 2b.co.uk. It makes money through affiliate and banner advertising.
Tim launches an early low-cost hosting and domain registration business called Global Gold Network Ltd (GGN). It grows rapidly, with people buying up domain names as investments, and achieves a £150k monthly turnover within 12 months. It’s still based in Tim’s parents’ study.
Just months after GGN takes on new offices to cope with the boom, the dot-com bubble bursts spectacularly. Sales drop off as quickly as they’d started and the following few years are spent refocusing on hosting, corporate clients and a more premium offering.
After 12 years, Tim and his business partner go their separate ways. Tim leaves GGN as a director but retains his 50% shareholding. Later that year, GGN is acquired by iomart. Meanwhile, Tim is beginning a new venture. He decides to call it Nimbus Hosting.
Nimbus outgrows its first tiny office and moves its five-strong team to Harlow.
With nine people on board, it’s getting to be a tight squeeze again at the Nimbus office, so Tim ups sticks for a bigger place in Hertford.
Things are going well at Nimbus. Turnover exceeds £2m for the first time and Tim begins moving the company’s focus from service to product. He has a new idea – a hosting platform created for creatives. STORM is born.
With its new hosting platform going from strength to strength, the Nimbus team is now 21-strong, with over 1,000 STORM servers – and counting!