Where Are They Now? IT Authorities (Jan. 2011)
By Jay McCall
When we last spoke with IT Authorities, which describes itself as a pure managed services provider, it had already grown by 377% during the previous three years. Like you, we’re always curious to find out how sustainable that kind of growth is, and what are some things the really successful solutions and services providers are doing that you may not be doing — but could be. I caught up with Jason Caras, co-CEO of IT Authorities, to get those answers. So, do you think this MSP is still doing well? Even if your hunch turns out to be right, you may be surprised to find out why.
1. How has your business fared since we last spoke with you ?
Caras: Since we last spoke with Business Solutions, we’ve experienced 49% revenue growth. We began the year as a regional MSP and ended it as an international player. We went international opening an office in Melbourne, Australia and are currently providing professional services and managed services throughout the entire Asian Pacific region including Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia (Office opening Q4 2012), Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, Philippines, Vietnam, and India.
We added a new international division which focuses on professional consulting services and managed services for the enterprise market. This has led to contracts with some of the largest companies in the world located in North and South America with a major concentration throughout the Asian Pacific region.
Our culture program and philosophy earned recognition in Chief Executive Magazine’s — Great Companies for Leaders list. We believe culture is everything and ours is built on leadership at every level. Winning the conversation in your head to go above and beyond; to act like it is your company; to consistently contribute to the overall success of the company by working harder on yourself than you do your job is what makes us fiercely competitive and successful.
2. What has contributed most to your success since we last spoke?
- Caras: We successfully continued upstream to larger clients, which is risky as it is a longer sale cycle and more difficult to win.
- We started putting engineers on site in a dedicated role for our larger clients in an effort to provide superior MSP services and we have accomplished that. Client satisfaction increased significantly.
- We expanded internationally.
- Continued expansion and sophistication on our custom built business process management systems (Built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM with integration into RMM, PSA, and our accounting system). We made a decision early on to develop a business process management system that would allow us to operate our company the way we want to versus operating within the confines and constraints of a PSA like ConnectWise. They have a great product and serve their purpose, (we use portions of AutoTask) but they are generally designed for smaller MSP’s that cater to smaller businesses and in the end it was not sophisticated or flexible enough to handle our dynamic organization or that of our larger clientele. We now have highly customizable and modular automated systems and processes around the delivery of managed services, cloud services, and all within an ITIL framework. We call it our “Orchestra of Precision”.
- We got more sophisticated in our accounting and finance practices by hiring Matt Dawson, a high caliber CFO with a private equity background and large company management experience.
3. Are there any new technologies/solutions you're offering which are impacting your business?
Caras: We developed a new service for larger companies called NOC as a Service (NaaS) and have already signed four major contracts with multi-billion dollar companies located in Australia, Malaysia, and in the USA.
We continue to build out our cloud platform to go beyond private cloud, infrastructure as a service, and cloud backup solutions to expand to higher end cloud disaster recovery and high availability solutions.
4. Speak to any failings (small or large) you've experienced since we last spoke.
Caras: We stunted out own growth. Even though we enjoyed 49% in new revenue, we could have performed far better. We realized we had not put enough time or money into the sales and marketing engine. In fact, we were well under the industry standard and certainly our competitors from a % of revenue and a headcount perspective when it came to sales and marketing.
5. Are there any other tips/tactics that you think are worth mentioning that are contributing to your success?
- Caras: Invest in sales and marketing (we are now)
- Make sure you have a cloud offering for your target market
- Take the time to develop systems and processes to create efficiencies and economies of scale
- Pay attention to EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amoritization) and work to improve it every day
- Develop and nurture an amazing culture to keep your employees happy and fulfilled while they pursue their individual goals
- Hire a high end CFO — pay whatever it takes — keep your cost of capital as low as possible, and manage your cash flow well.