Bryan Fuller, CEO and founder, and Andrew Williams, director of service delivery, contributed to this interview.
- Company: Contigo Technology
- Year Founded: 2013
- Headquartered: Austin, Texas
- Geographic Market: Central Texas
- Top Growth Indicator: Inc. 5000 List
- YoY % Of Growth: 181% in 2018, 121% in 2019
- CEO And Founder: Bryan Fuller
2020 Has Certainly Thrown A Few Curveballs. How Did You Pivot This Year To Address The Business Environment?
We made some big decisions about how to resell our solutions to address financial concerns. The nature of 2020 made clients much more concerned about costs, and that’s not something we could just ignore. So, while we made the deliberate decision to change some of our plan costs, at the same time, we didn’t take away any of the value of those plans. We got out in front of this thing by talking sincerely with our clients about their plans, and we helped them prep their IT resources. The reality is that a lot of clients and prospects had their own issues to deal with when everything started, but straight out of the gate, we made it our mission to never lose clients because our service was bad. We worked to make our service better by catering to each and every client’s specific needs during this stressful remote-work shift, even if it meant eating some costs ourselves so our clients survived.
What Advice Would You Give Yourself In 2019 Looking Back On What You Have Learned In 2020?
Security is going to be evolving into compliance, so I would have advised our 2019 business to develop our compliance services sooner. We’re seeing many clients get audited by different sources these days, and we want to be a major contributor to helping our clients pass those audits. We’ve been working to develop compliance measures for a year, and it’s already been a strong competitive advantage for us. We’re positive that compliance measures are going to make a real difference in the near future if you want to remain a relevant MSP. We’re in an excellent position to be much more influential and helpful in a compliance audit situation, so we’re being forward-thinking for our clients in that way.
What Are You Most Excited About For 2021 And Beyond?
We’re really excited to continue maturing as an MSP. If you’re doing things right, your processes mature over time, your products become more integrated, your people become better trained, and you become more of a value-based sell. Maturity steps may drive up the cost of your operations, but you should be offsetting those costs thanks to your maturing services. We have the same battle scars as anyone else in this business, but each year that we get more mature, it gets more fun. We’re excited about our compliance strategy, our clients’ continued momentum, and that we’re located in Austin, Texas. It’s a great place to be.
What Are The Top Three Metrics You Use To Measure Your Business And Why?
We track all the “regular” metrics you would expect, but really, our biggest tool is our client success manager (CSM). We hold it in the highest regard because we use it to build, nurture, and strategize with our clients. They’re the most important thing to us, and our CSM helps us keep all our projects with them under control. Numerical metrics are certainly important, but these relationships are the most valuable, and they’re what we track and pay the most attention to. We’re also measuring our success by our ability to give back to our community. We’ve always worked with nonprofits, but this year, we were actually able to adopt one called The Seedling Foundation. We provided students with access to computers for their education. That kind of activity is huge for us, and it’s become so important to the kind of growth we want for ourselves.
What Is The Top Lesson You Had To Learn That Allowed You To Kick-Start Your Business Growth?
Every MSP faces unavoidable churn — it’s a natural part of your client base that you can’t escape. But you can successfully react to it by having a plan to replace those lost clients and continue moving the business forward. You have to have strong marketing and sales efforts just to make up for those gaps. In addition to good sales and marketing to fill that space, if you want to continue growing, you have to have a quality team. We’ve learned the hard way how incredibly competitive this industry is, and the Austin area in particular. If you want to attract the best talent, you have to be able to guarantee that they’ll have the wages and opportunities they want. The only way you can do that is by knowing exactly how many clients you need to complete your plan of continuity to support your employees. It’s all connected.
What Would You Say Is The Most Impactful Technique Or Leadership Style You Follow Or Are Influenced By?
We truly trust our gut above all else on most decisions, but peer groups full of other MSP owners who can share war stories and insights are invaluable. Seek groups that consist of both business-minded and technology-minded people because both bring value. We also follow the philosophy of hiring people who we know are much better at their job than we could ever be. Then, we give them the autonomy to do that job how they think is best for the business. Every business owner who is worth their salt should be familiar with every aspect of their business because at some point, they should have had to do it themselves, but that doesn’t mean they should keep doing it themselves. Having your fingers in everything, especially in those early days, provides tremendous education on how best to grow. At the end of the day, you’re the one calling the shots, so you have to be able to trust yourself.
Were There Any Partners Or Businesses That Helped You Along The Way?
We’ll always be grateful to the two partners we had who were very gracious in letting us start this subsidiary MSP from an original business called Loop1. They’re still around and very successful, but we amicably branched from them years ago, and they were an incredible resource who helped us take off so fast. We never would have gotten off the ground if not for that initial union. The partners who we also talk to most days are invaluable to us, especially Kaseya. They’ve been huge with helping us get all of our products integrated and have been endlessly helpful and influential in our space.
Do You Have Any Specific Advice Or Words Of Wisdom That You Would Give To Other MSPs Looking To Grow Or Build A Successful Exit For Their Business?
There is more merger and acquisition activity in this market every day. The amount of communication we get about it is unbelievable, and that’s not going to change. So, know which direction you’re going: buying or selling. There’s no in-between. Either way, you have to start thinking five years ahead and taking risks to better your business one way or the other. You also owe that plan to your clients and your team. Your clients need to know what to expect from you, and your employees need to know what your strategy is so that they can succeed in their own careers. A lot of people are relying on you to be aware of what your own plan is.