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For Allen and his partners at X4, the reshaped consulting umbrella is an opportunity to build community in the channel.
February 21, 2023
The group, which channel veterans Curt Allen, Steve Braverman, Mike Cromwell and Cardi Prinzi spearhead, has reshaped to function as more of what they consider an umbrella organization for different consultancies. EagleTEQ previously held its own LLC, but the respective partners have created their own LLCs and have set up X4 as a resource for people who are interested in starting their own LLCs. X4 will provide the documentation consultants need to start their practice, from nondisclosure agreements to timesheets.
X4 Advisor’s Curt Allen
Allen said he, Prinzi and Braverman are splitting the costs of X4, while taking a small fee from members. But Allen said that in the day-to-day, he and his colleagues will get revenue from their own own respective LLCs.
“What we decided pretty early on at EagleTEQ is that it was less about building an enterprise value and more about building a place where we could make it easy for folks to come and deliver advisory services,” Allen told Channel Futures.
He said Alan Sandler, whose company Sandler Partners bought X4 in 2016, gave his blessing for them to to bring back the X4 branding.
“The experience of X4’s partners as operators allows them to understand the stakeholder objectives, assess their current environment and focus on practical and executable deliverables,” Sandler said. “I’ve known and worked with Steve, Curt, Mike and Cardi for many years and was honored that they wanted to use the X4 brand.”
Potential X4 members would come from a variety of backgrounds.
One particular background would be someone who has recently left a company but must serve a period of non-compete. Others, like Allen, are moving closer to retirement and want a line of work with a less demanding schedule. Others have experienced a layoff and need to “take a breath” and take some time to figure out what they want to do next.
“X4 Advisors could be that breath for some folks. It might be that they’re working a job and they say, ‘Hey, keep me on as a consultant for six months.’ We can give them the structure and the way to monetize that and the way to take care of the taxation and all that fun stuff,” Allen said. “But it could also be, ‘I don’t need to take a job tomorrow, because ABC company will pay me $10,000 a month to consult on a short-term kind of interim gig.'”
For some consultants, like former EagleTEQ partner turned GTT channel leader Ken Bisnoff, a consulting gig may turn into a full-time position at a company.
Allen’s consulting focus has played a big role in the many channel leadership gigs he has done since selling X4. He’s led channel sales at companies like Windstream and Vonage. But after joining Vonage, he saw the opportunity to evolve his role into one of a consultant.
On one hand, Allen said he felt that companies that he was already helping had a future leader in their midst. At Vonage, that was current channel chief Jim Regan. For Aryaka, that was (Channel Influencer of the Year) Craig Patterson. For TD Synnex, that was now-vice president of product management Marcie Stout.
In some of those cases, the vendor had asked Allen if he wanted to step into those leadership roles, but he said he told them to look inward.
“We’re so guilty in the space of saying, ‘Let’s just do the safe hire. Let’s go hire Curt Allen for the 15th time,'” he said. “And Curt Allen’s 55 and tired. I’m not your guy. Craig Patterson’s your guy. Marcie Stout’s your lady.”
Allen said he loves working in the channel. For him, the industry has become a community where he interacts with many lifelong friends. And consulting has allowed him to stay in that industry while enjoying a more flexible lifestyle.
“I just decided that I’m a better grandparent than I am a parent,” he explained to Channel Futures. “When you’re a grandparent, you can talk about the strategy and talk about the tactics. But the second the baby poops, you hand it back.”
Allen, who describes himself as a libertarian, said the restructured company is a communitarian project of sorts. The payback for him comes from giving back to the community, he said.
“Everybody says, ‘What’s the catch? What are you up to?’ I’ve been a capitalist my whole life. I’ve done nothing but run for-profit businesses, but I’ve operated in a fashion where I think most people know that I do the next right thing for the next right thing’s sake and kind of let the results be what they are,” he said. “But in this case, it’s truly that there’s an industry and a space and a bunch of really good humans who I’ve had an amazing career being aligned with. This is our chance to give a little bit of that back, and there’s really no downside for us. Those good vibes will pay me sevenfold.”
Read more about:Agents
Senior News Editor, Channel Futures
James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.
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