The CEO of a Silicon Valley company called me two weeks ago. He had a simple question: What are my views on NetEnrich, which specializes in NOC (network operations center) services for MSPs and VARs? My simple answer: My NetEnrich views are evolving -- as is NetEnrich itself. Over the past 18 months or so, NetEnrich has blended its established executive team with new viewpoints to gain a clearer focus. Here's how.
Let's start with some simple data points: NetEnrich spent most of 2011 evangelizing closet-to-cloud services for VARs and MSPs. The company is best-known for its NOC services, but has also introduced management services for VoIP, unified communications, customer database management, and more.
Fast FactsAccording to Senior VP and GM Justin Crotty, NetEnrich will generate "record single year revenue growth" in 2011. The milestones include:
- Roughly 50 percent growth on the customer (VAR) acquisition front. The figure could have been higher but NetEnrich was "highly selective" on the partner front, Crotty said.
- Business with existing partners grew roughly 50 percent, month over month (2011 vs. 2010) throughout the year, Crotty said. "Our partners are seeing fast strong growth options by leveraging us."
I don't know how much revenue -- dollars and cents -- NetEnrich actually drives. But it sounds like 2011 was a solid year for NetEnrich.
How did NetEnrich find its current focus?
That's actually a longer story, involving an established NetEnrich management team (such as CEO Raju Chekuri and Senior VP/CTO Varma Kunaparaju) and the march toward an expanded team (including Crotty and VP Jennifer Anaya).
Finding Its MojoRewind to 2008. At the time, I believe NetEnrich was pursuing multiple strategies. One of which involved a Master MSP initiative, essentially hosting Level Platforms' software for established and aspiring MSPs.
NetEnrich CEO Raju Chekuri explained the strategy more deeply to me and Amy Katz (my business partner) in 2008 during a CompTIA golf tournament in Orlando, Fla. Did I mention I don't golf? By the fourth hole, water hazards had claimed all of my golf balls. Suddenly, there was a lot more time to talk business while walking the course with Chekuri.
During that 2008 meeting (which also included NetEnrich Senior VP and CTO Varma Kunaparaju) Amy and I realized that NetEnrich had some big ideas for the managed services market. But there were multiple ideas and several potential paths forward. Which path would NetEnrich ultimately choose?
Meanwhile, In the Distribution MarketAlso in 2008, I started running into Justin Crotty, who was an Ingram Micro VP at the time. I was still shaping my early views on managed services. Some of MSPmentor's initial distributor coverage had raised Crotty's blood pressure a bit. I kept lumping Ingram Micro Seismic -- the company's MSP play at the time -- in with rival distributor initiatives. I think I drove Crotty nuts at the time. "Ingram Micro is different," he kept telling me.
Our coverage -- love it or hate it -- sparked an ongoing dialog, and I gradually got a closer look at Ingram and Crotty's views on the market. He kept telling MSPs to stop doing the mundane IT work. Instead, find a partner -- somebody like Ingram -- to assist and free you up for higher-margin opportunities, Crotty evangelized.
In some ways, the message was similar to NetEnrich's efforts.
Familiar FacesMost of my early interviews with Crotty were lined up by Marie Meoli -- er, Marie Rourke, an Ingram veteran who launched WhiteFox, a channel-exclusive communications firm. Rourke frequently worked closely with Ingram communications veteran Jennifer Baier Anaya.
Fast forward to the present and all of the major names above -- Chekuri, Kunaparaju, Crotty, Anaya and now keep an eye on Rourke -- have played various roles in NetEnrich's road to success. How did those five folks wind up on this journey together?
The Ingram Micro ConnectionI asked Crotty and Anaya how they first met at Ingram Micro.
Crotty paints the scene:
"If memory serves I met both Jen and Marie on the same night at the 70's style club in Orlando at Paradise Island or whatever it is called. It's that themed club – Polyesters, maybe? Anyway, I had just started at Ingram in July of 2001 and met them in August, like two weeks into my stint there, at a customer event. I hope I'm right."(Side note: If anyone has pictures from that Polyester evening, MSPmentor is willing to pay cash...)
Anaya has a similar recollection:
"[I] met Justin at an Xchange event in Orlando, Fla., when he first started working for Ingram; we all went to that disco night club at Pleasure Island. I had the opportunity to work with him a lot on building our message around VTN and in developing Ingram Micro's channel marketing offerings, then we teamed up to launch Seismic and the Services Division.And how did Rourke (maiden name Meoli) enter the picture? Anaya recalls:
"I met Marie when I joined the PR firm, The Benjamin Group. She was wicked-smart and funny. We hit it off immediately. Brought her over to work with me at Ingram on our Corporate Communications team and was her first client when she launched WhiteFox PR."
An Inflection Point in 2008By early February 2008, Crotty was busy building and expanding Ingram Micro Seismic, which helped to transform VARs into MSPs. That's when he first connected with NetEnrich's Chekuri and Kunaparaju.
Recalls Crotty: "I met them at a meeting at Ingram when we first met with NetEnrich to understand what they were up to and were considering bringing on an infrastructure management provider into Seismic. It was around February 2008 or so, if memory serves."
Ingram ultimately leveraged NetEnrich's NOC services within the Seismic initiative. And Crotty stayed in touch with Chekuri...
New Directions in 2010By Q2 2010 or so, I suspect, Ingram's Crotty was looking to make his mark at a smaller company. By August 2010, he was onboard at NetEnrich as senior VP and GM -- working closely with Chekuri and Kunaparaju.
Gradually, Crotty began to leverage old, trusted relationships at his new home. Anaya joined NetEnrich in March 2011 and a closet-to-cloud strategy emerged. And most recently, WhiteFox's Rourke has started assisting NetEnrich's PR efforts.
Answer the Darn Question, PleaseNow, back to the opening paragraph in this blog. The CEO of a Silicon Valley company called me two weeks ago, and asked me for my current views on NetEnrich. Please, no M&A rumors: The CEO was simply mulling a potential partnership.
My reply: I think Chekuri, Kunaparaju and the established NetEnrich management team has always had a solid list of big ideas. But at some point you need to focus in on a few of your best ideas and abandon the rest. I believe that's where Crotty and Anaya enter the picture. I believe they balance NetEnrich's big-idea moments with day-to-day execution. And now WhiteFox's Rourke is helping to spread the story.
I'm always wary of writing blogs like this. Today's successful company can flame out tomorrow. But right now, NetEnrich's performance speaks for itself: Roughly 50 percent growth on the customer (VAR) acquisition front in 2011. We'll be watching to see if NetEnrich can play an encore in 2012.