Young Businesspeople Shape the Future of the Channel
They’re young, fearless and changing the face of the channel.
They’re the growing number of millennials who took part in last week’s Channel Partners Conference and Expo. They stopped by the Millennial Meetup “No Mo’ FOMO,” hosted by Channel Partners NX2Z co-founders James Anderson and Aaron Leveston, to learn about their community.
The event drew a mix of young channel executives, such as Adam Sharma of Long Beach, California. He’s an account executive with Human-I-T, a non-profit that refurbishes old tech hardware – such as cellphones, laptops and servers – and donates it to people who need it.
Human-I-T obtains much of its hardware when channel partners sell new tech to organizations, he said.
“We refurbish, we donate out computers, we subsidize internet so it’s low cost and we teach digital literacy classes as well,” Sharma said. “A lot of people we donate to have never seen a computer before in their lives, and that means that they don’t know how to use a mouse or drag a window, or how to open Word and how to start writing a resume and stuff like that. So we’re putting together classes for that as well. So any money that is generated aside from paying people goes to standing up those programs and doing the refurbishment.”
Sharma said he spends a lot of time in front of C-level executives and it’s an “easy sell.”
“We’re technically in sales, but we’re selling a free service to help people,” he said. “It’s easy to do and I get to do a lot. I get to do more marketing and things like that. But really the most important thing is when you go to these events and you hand a family a computer and you see the looks on their faces, there [are] tears often. And when we do it in an event setting, we do free internet for a year or more, and usually that’s with a partner. And it’s great catching up a year or two later, and hearing, ‘I got into college because my grades went up after I got this computer and I could do my application online.'”
He joined Human-I-T because he wanted to do “some good in the world,” and as his career progresses he hopes to “give back on a larger scale.”
Michael Atwood is a solution specialist at Concierge Core Services in Mesa, Arizona. Concierge has been in business for more than 13 years; it used to be a master agent before selling to CarrierSales, which Telarus later bought.
“I’ve been part of Concierge since 2009 and so we’re just looking to grow our business, and come out and network,” he said. “I meet with clients and go through a road map consulting in order to find which solutions will work best for them and pair them with the best vendors.”
Millennials have a growing presence in the channel and are influencing the types of products being sold, Atwood said. Also, there’s a lot of automation that’s coming in that “effectively could replace some of us,” he said.
“I just graduated with a bachelor’s in business management and I plan on starting my own company, not necessarily in the channel — but maybe at one point I can come back to the channel,” he said. “I believe heavily in investing in your own personal skills and skill set, and it will make you more marketable no matter what you do. I got a business management degree, but I learned programming by myself.”
Scott Hopkins is a channel manager with Sandler Partners in the Los Angeles area. His role primarily is to on-board new partners and MSPs, and his performance is based on how many partners he brings in.
“I’ve enjoyed it and I plan on being there for awhile,” he said. “My career goal is to stay in the industry as long as I can and get to know as many people as I can, making strong connections and do some good business.”