June 14, 2023
PAX8 BEYOND — Pax8 CEO John Street just watched his team unveil a marketplace that gives MSPs and vendors a new way to sell and service customers. When it launches early next year, MSPs will have clear views into customers’ technology stacks. It uses AI and data analytics to show gaps in those stacks and suggests the products and solutions needed to fill them. The platform includes storefronts for MSPs and their customers.
That’s only scratching the surface of features within an incredibly complicated piece of technology. It took Scott Chasin, Pax8’s CTO, and his team just two years to build the main components. Chasin agrees that’s really fast, even though there’s still some fine-tuning needed. Yet Street wants Pax8 to move even faster on all fronts.
“What keeps me up at night is mostly figuring out how we can go faster. I’m not as much worried about the competition, and I’m not naïve. It’s that we’ve been working pretty hard to get the lead and I want to keep the lead,” Street said at Pax8’s Beyond conference, where 1,100 MSPs watched the unveiling and cheered for the key elements of the marketplace. “So I just got to speed it up even faster because I’m gonna be that much harder to catch.”
Pax8 CEO John Street
Pax8 has already been moving at a fast clip this year. The company ramped up its Pax8 Academy for MSP training and peer groups. It’s rolling out a cybersecurity partner program, a new vendor program and a complex product road map, on which Street is withholding details. Pax8 also streamlined its product onboarding process, which helped the company launch 11 products in the last six months compared to the same number all of last year.
“Behind the scenes, this marketplace platform that we built is a highly complicated piece of technology,” the Pax8 CEO said. “We’ve broken it down into modules and we have a whole series behind the scenes of things that we can introduce. I would like to have it all … now.”
Pax8 is doing well financially, so the company could invest in the resources to make that happen, Street said. But he’s also picking his battles. Street has a philosophy he calls KTLO, or “keeping the lights on.” That translates, roughly, to improving things that need it.
“We’re fixing things as we go because we’ve been expedient while building the technology layer [of the marketplace], and we’re just now finally finished completely modularizing it,” he said. “While we’re doing all this new stuff, we still have to do billing and all that stuff behind the scenes; that’s the really complicated piece. That’s very hard for other people to replicate.”
Pax8 CEO on the Competitive Threat That’s Not Traditional
That focus on the cloud marketplace is one reason Street isn’t overly concerned about competitive threats from traditional distributors such as Ingram Micro and TD Synnex.
“The traditional guys are smart, but they’re still struggling with change,” he said, adding it helps that Pax8 isn’t hampered by traditional business models. “We don’t have any of that legacy. If we keep going fast enough, we can stay ahead of them. We’re doing it more cleverly anyway.”
The real threat is SaaS vendors selling direct to the end customer, which AI makes it easier to do. Street is quick to note, though, that there’s plenty of data showing companies are more satisfied with products installed and integrated by skilled MSPs. Those products also have a higher rate of becoming permanent in a company’s tech mix.
“That’s the value we show the vendors,” the Pax8 CEO said. “If an end-user customer buys through a service provider, they really use the product better. When the end-user customer uses the product better, they don’t cancel it.”
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