Anderson believes he has the business model for all economic seasons: His
company sells a single product.
PCs or servers, operating systems or applications. GetConnect, the company
Anderson founded three years ago and of which he is president, does nothing but
sell and service Adobe Systems‘ Connect Pro Web conferencing and e-learning
makes the Dallas-based solution provider a rarity. It’s not unusual for a
solution provider to have a narrow focus on a particular technology or even a
single vendor, but a single-product model is, well, singular.
the inherent risks of a single-product model, Anderson
is sticking with the approach. It has served him well through the good economic
years, and now that the economy is down, more and more customers turn to
Connect Pro as an alternative to costly business trips and on-site training, he
feel very fortunate, knock on wood, that his product seems to play well in a
recession," Anderson says.
addition to cutting travel costs, Connect Pro also is affordable to run.
Available as a hosted application through a SAAS (software as a service)
arrangement, it requires no complicated, costly on-site deployments.
for customers concerned about the environment, the product offers a green
component: It curbs carbon emissions by cutting down travel.
the launch of GetConnect in late 2005, Anderson
says he saw a great market opportunity for Connect Pro.
wasn’t something I put years of planning into," he says, which is a bit of
an understatement. In truth, GetConnect was founded by happenstance.
how it all went down: Anderson had
worked at Macromedia, the company that developed ConnectPro under the name "Breeze,"
for about six months when the sale of the company to Adobe Systems was
completed in December 2005. Anderson
had been assured his job was secure before the sale closed, but a couple of
weeks after getting that assurance, he was laid off.
could have despaired, but instead decided to set himself up as a Connect Pro
solution provider. A couple of Adobe colleagues, including Ian Justin, who is
vice president of technical sales at GetConnect, agreed to join him. One week
after the sale closed, GetConnect opened for business. That was on Dec. 12, and
on Dec. 21, the company did its first Connect Pro demo for a prospective
GetConnect employs nine people and serves some 600 customers. In its first
year, GetConnect had revenue of $4.3 million, jumping to $6.5 million in 2007. Anderson
expects to top $7 million in 2008.
company sources Connect Pro from distributor Tech Data, which has seen its
share of business models among the thousands of solution providers with which
it does business. But ask a handful of Tech Data sales reps to name more than
one single-product-focused solution provider, and they draw a blank.
first blush, it may seem like a risky move to focus on one particular product
or product line," says Stacy Nethercoat, Tech Data vice president of
software product marketing. But, she adds, focusing on a single product and
bundling services around it can translate to healthy margins and being
recognized as an expert in a particular technology.
believes his company has done so well with just one product, often topping the
list of Adobe channel partners on sales, because of several factors. For one
thing, he says, Connect Pro is a great product.
competitor to WebEx’s offerings and Microsoft’s Live Meeting, Connect Pro offers
an interface resembling a Web portal and is used for business meetings and
classroom settings, allowing users to author shared content.
much everybody we talk to is blow away by the Adobe product," says Anderson.
"They absolutely love it."
from the product itself, Anderson
attributes his company’s success to experience. The team he assembled to run
GetConnect, including his wife, Shannon Anderson, who is vice president of
operations, consists of middle-aged people with lots of experience in the IT
Macromedia, Anderson ran western
regional sales, and before joining the vendor he had owned a company reselling
other Web communication applications.
Data’s Nethercoat believes selling a single product is an opportunity with a
time limit. "The opportunity to focus on one product or line will not last
forever, but savvy VARs can make the most of it while it lasts," she says.
isn’t worried. As long as the product’s quality remains high and the need for Web
conferencing and distance learning continues, he says, there is plenty of
business to be had.
"The demand for what this product does isn’t going to
go away any time soon," he says.