Fast-growing Sheffield internet firm expands into Europe

Jonathan Burrows, managing director ASK4, Devonshire Green House, Fitzwilliam Street, Sheffiled.

Jonathan Burrows, managing director ASK4, Devonshire Green House, Fitzwilliam Street, Sheffiled.

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A fast-growing Sheffield ISP is aiming to repeat its UK success in Europe - but many times over.

Ask4 has just completed its first deal on the Continent where it hopes to build on a winning formula of installing broadband cabling in purpose-built student flats.

The company, based at Devonshire Green House, Fitzwilliam St, has just connected up two buildings in Madrid - and is also eyeing expansion into Germany and Ireland.

Founded by Jonathan Burrows in 2000, the firm has 130,000 users in the UK, the majority of them students. It has long standing links with construction firms and developers who are now buying assets in Europe.

Mr Burrows, aged 34, said it was up to 15 years behind the student living trend that has swept the UK.

He added: “The Europeans don’t have the same tradition of going away to university or living in purpose-built student accommodation as us, but that’s starting to change.

“We’re very happy. Europe offers an opportunity many multiples of what we have in the UK.”

Ask4 made its name after Jonathan Burrows, then aged 19, persuaded the builders of Sheffield’s West One apartment complex to include broadband cabling in the 600-apartment development.

Today the company also serves business and residential markets and has a £2m data centre in Attercliffe. The group employs 100 and turnover is £13m.

In 2014, Jonathan Burrows led a £21.5m private equity-backed management buy-out. Several original angel investors and directors left the firm and the senior management team was restructured.

A goal was to engage a financial partner who would bring contacts and experience to the table.

At the time Jonathan Burrows said: “Where the decision makers are also majority shareholders and working in the business day-to-day, it can very easily become too narrowly focused.

“Having that outside challenge, and being made to think about things from a different perspective really gives clarity.”

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