Detour to successBy Frank Ohlhorst | Posted 2008-05-20 Email Print
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The paths to growth may vary, but growth is a must for solution providers with any hope of success.
Sometimes there is a detour on the path to success, and Touchbase is a case in point.
"Touchbase was started in 1992 by me, my father and a friend of mine in a bedroom in Wapping, London," said CEO Riordan Maynard. "From a personal perspective, I wanted to start a business to try and build something different from the norm—simply, one which focused on its people and clients as it grew, rather than just obsessing about the numbers."
While that path proved somewhat successful, Touchbase experienced its most explosive growth only recently, as a result of a shift in direction. "We decided in 2006 to change significantly, and moved the entire organization from what we considered to be legacy technology, to focus 100 percent on emerging collaboration and customer contact technologies," such as Cisco’s Unified Communications products, he said. "Having made the huge gamble to shift wholesale to a new set of technologies, the results have been amazing. Our growth last year was in excess of 300 percent, and last quarter was 300 percent up quarter- on-quarter."
While Neudesic, Artech and Touchbase could be considered superstars in the solution provider world, there are some smaller solution providers also on the path to success whose experiences can offer insight into the problems of managing growth.
Raj Mehta founded the precursor to Infosys International in 1986, following a path familiar to most solution providers. "I worked on my own from my home, trying to sell my consulting services," Mehta recalled. "I began building and selling PCs and helping any business that would let me work with their technology systems. I had such a desire to start my own successful business that no job was too small. I was trying to make a name for myself."
His quest paid off when Infosys was recognized by the Long Island Software Awards in 1998 as the "Fastest Growing Software Company on Long Island." Inc. Magazine has also named Infosys as one of the 500 fastest growing companies in the country. The company now employs 55 out of its 14,000-square-foot headquarters.
Sometimes success takes a tortuous path, as evidenced by the story of David Dadian, CEO of Powersolution.com. Dadian worked in the industry for several years before founding his first business, partnering with a startup, and then building what eventually
became Powersolution.com in 1998.
Recently, Dadian reignited growth by combining traditional solution-provider services with managed services to achieve greater efficiencies and boost customer satisfaction. The company expects revenue of more than $1.3 million for 2008, a 30 percent increase
from the previous year, proving that change can be beneficial.
"The initial plan/model should always be in a state of constant evolution," Dadian said. "If it is not, it is not being vetted for what works and what doesn’t. Flexibility is a key to success."
It’s not the technology!
While these success stories have followed different paths, each of the solution providers agrees that technology is not necessarily the driver for success.
"Artech was founded with core technology skills, and this was important upon entry into the IT market," said Poddar. "Our sales skills at that time were nominal. The aggressive pursuit of new accounts was critical to our initial growth, but our interpretation of salesmanship was more about developing a business dialogue and making a business case for our services than just pushing discrete solutions."
Given the fact that a referral lead is vetted on some level by a ch...