Raffi Jamgotchian, founder and CTO of Triada Networks, based in Norwood, NJ, shares three suggestions he'd apply if he were launching an MSP from scratch today.
1. Focus on a sales process – We started with a number of people that we knew and had history with as clients, people I had worked with when I was in corporate IT. So, we had a client base that we were starting with, and that was nice and comfortable, but it didn't provide the hunger that we needed in order to go out and sell - to hunt. And we didn't really start doing that until a couple of years after we had started. It essentially delayed our growth until much later. Partly it was also that we started in 2008, during the financial crisis. I think if we'd started planting the seeds earlier on, our growth would have been faster in the beginning than it was.
2. Niche earlier – We were already in a niche, but we didn't really market to that niche, and shifting our focus to marketing to our primary niche — financial services, alternative asset managers — was a big change for us about four years ago. We probably should have done that sooner.
We came out of a financial services company and our contacts were in financial services. We were already working with different investment companies, like private equity firms and other alternative asset managers. So, it was a natural fit for us to continue working with those kind of companies, but unfortunately our messaging didn't really reflect that. And so, when we went to meet with firms, we were meeting with everybody. And since we were small and new, that really wasn't an effective tactic.
What ended up being effective however, was when we did sit in front of another investment company, we had a track record because of our starting client base to work with companies that were like them. When people feel like you have an understanding of what they do, and what they go through, they are more apt to do business with you. Even if they know nothing about you specifically, they may know somebody that does. They know companies that you're working with already, and through reputation of working in financial services — a lot of it is by reputation — those deals opened up and we were able to charge rates that were much more lucrative than if we were pitching as a general IT member. Now you're somebody who's been working in the field for twenty years, not just somebody else that just came off the street. And in New York City, where you can throw a stick and hit an IT member, differentiating yourself makes a big difference.
3. Use outsourced services for commodity items such as helpdesk and NOC services – This is more of a structural thing, and how we ended up building over time. We decided to build in such a way that we outsourced a lot of our commoditized services: basic support, basic NOC services and, more recently, some field service work as well. Our basic services are covered by people who are doing it at more acceptable rates. And we were able to do higher level work and bill accordingly. By doing that, we could scale a company from a revenue perspective without having to add headcount. That was huge for us. From the numbers point of view, we do in revenue what most four- and five-person, six-person companies are doing, and we are doing it with two. So, that's kind of a difference in how we've structured what we've done over the past eight years versus others. And I think that served us well.
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