5 Lessons Learned from Master MSP Thomas Clancy of Valiant Technology
Thomas Clancy Jr. is the founder and CEO of Valiant Technology, a NY-based MSP specializing in providing break/fix services for enterprise customers. Clancy started the company in 2002 as an Apple reseller and service provider.
Name: Valiant Technology
CEO: Thomas Clancy Jr.
Year Founded: 2002
Area of Focus: Break/fix services and infrastructure management
Thomas Clancy Jr. is the founder and CEO of Valiant Technology, a New York-based MSP specializing in providing break/fix services for customers large and small. Within the MSP community, Clancy is know as a straight-talking, outspoken leader in his field. Clancy started the company in 2002 as an Apple reseller and service provider, but transitioned to delivering MSP-centric services in 2008 following the growing popularity of Apple’s NYC-based stores.
Today, Valiant Technology chiefly serves clients in the creative industry, including fashion designers, television executives, artists and architects. The company has grown significantly in the past 24 months due to Clancy’s personal focus on driving new sales, through which he was able to double the company’s recurring revenue.
Although his professional background is grounded in the art and music worlds, Clancy’s business savvy and technical skill has enabled him to turn Valiant Technology into a thriving managed service provider for clients in the NY metropolitan area. By creating a culture of like-minded engineers with a dedication to customers and not vendor relationships, Clancy and his team consistently strive to meet the needs of their clients by adapting to their specific needs.
Here are 5 takeaways from The VAR Guy’s recent discussion with Clancy.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Back Up the Lead Singer –Clancy started his career as a musician and spent more than 20 years playing drums for a number of different bands. Through it all, he said he learned one critical lesson: sometimes, it’s better to do the technical work rather than lead the band.
“The bands I was in never made any real money but when the guitar player would strum and nothing would come out I would just dive across the stage and plug the cable in because I could just see it,” he said. “I’ve always been sort of that support crew for artists, so when I started Valiant it made sense to keep that attitude, that vibe. I like to think of myself as a drummer behind those lead singers and I’m very happy to be there.”
- Company Culture is Everything: Clancy says he values engineers who not only have an aptitude for what they do, but a real passion for something in their lives other than their work. As a rule, he only hires engineers with a broad set of interests, hobbies and passions outside of their regular nine to five jobs, which ensures that they have an appropriate work/life balance. As a former musician and artist, Clancy said it is critical for him to connect with his employees in a manner outside of enterprise tech—whether it be playing tabletop roleplaying games, collecting comic books or simply grabbing a beer at the in-house bar in Valiant’s rec/conference room.
- The cloud is a tool for building customer relationships: Clancy said there is no use in being loyal to a particular vendor or brand simply because of their namesake because at the end of the day what matters is the level of service that an MSP provides, not the technology itself. This is especially true of cloud technology. “The cloud is not your house, it’s the tool you use to make it. It will make your business better if you use it correctly. But a managed service provider will make sure that your cloud is the right cloud for you, that your data is safe.”
- Meet All of Your Customers’ Needs, No Matter Their Skill Level or Requirements: Clancy believes that to be successful, an MSP needs to adjust its services to meet the specific needs of its customers. While some customers require minimal handholding, others require a full-service IT crew, which Valiant is able to provide if necessary. Clancy said he has a fully-staffed IT crew ready and waiting for clients, with professionals capable of running the entire backend of their customer’s business if need be.
- It’s OK to Tell Customers What Services You Can’t Provide: Just because Clancy and his team try to provide the full suite of support services to their customers doesn’t mean there aren’t some things his team won’t do. For instance, Clancy said Valiant does not do any design work or front-end edits on their customer’s web content because he feels it could put him at odds with other clients. Rather than take on design work for a client, Clancy said he would rather help make the connection between two Valiant customers so they can work together. “Everybody here has some aspect of their personality that is creative,” said Clancy. “But I think that just about all of us recognize that while we’re all good, we all suffer from the ‘curse of the competent,’ which is that we recognize how good we’re not. And you can’t be all things to all people.”
For more of Tom Clancy’s wisdom, check out the full Q&A over at MSPmentor, our sister site.