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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

Location

333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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MSP Spotlights, News

April 26, 2022 | Brian and Mary Hamilton

A Journey of Reinvention

Mad Data IO went from surviving to thriving by embracing change as a growth strategy.

REINVENTION is not only key to survival in this business, it’s critical to growth and relevancy. You have to be willing to change—your brand, business model, clients, messaging, team, and community. That requires giving up the fear of failure.

That’s something we’re intimately familiar with at Mad Data IO. Since our founding in 2004, we steadily grew revenue—but not profit. By 2017, we were broke, and struggling to meet payroll and buy groceries. Today, we are profitable and expect to hit $2.5 million in revenue this year. We got here by embracing change, sometimes painfully, to build something better.

Branding. Before Google, businesses got found by being at the top of the phone book, so we named our company Agabus. It was a side business until 2008, when we both left our jobs to focus on the company and family. In 2009, we rebranded to Agabus Solutions but the name still didn’t resonate, so in 2016 we became Mid-Atlantic Data and Communications. Straightforward, but it was a mouthful and made for a long URL. Since technology should be simple and make life easier, our rebranding last year to Mad Data IO reflects that. We think this one will stick!

Business model. We started with a break-fix model serving 90% residential customers, and over time have transitioned to commercial customers on managed services contracts, with a vertical focus on manufacturing. It was a rocky path with a humble start: Early on we targeted a handful of businesses—with cupcakes from a local baker. This “marketing campaign” got us past the gatekeepers and we landed those first commercial clients. From there, we used referrals and leveraged relationships. Then in 2018, we were introduced to Robin Robins’ Technology Marketing Toolkit (TMT), and through knowledge gained in that organization, we blew up our model again in 2019, investing in a comprehensive technology stack to monitor and protect our customers against growing cyberthreats.

Clients. This new model had us taking a hard look at client metrics. First, we found other providers for those that weren’t profitable. Next, we did the same for those unwilling to fully protect themselves with our stack. Finally, we “fired” a few that were hyper demanding. It was liberating for our staff, but also financially frightening.

Messaging. Turning our attention to high-value clients willing to pay a premium for our services required a paradigm shift in thinking. Because we had been in survival mode for so long, we had been willing to take any business. Now our marketing efforts, fueled by our deeper involvement with TMT at the Producers Club level, target a more profitable customer base.

Team. Whenever there’s growth, you’re going to have to shed team members who won’t help you get to the next level. We encourage and facilitate their growth, but we have had to part ways with several who didn’t share our vision.

Community. One of our strengths is building relationships, and in our early days we formed bonds with our local competitors, six of whom give us their business when they exited the market. But we had never been part of an IT community until TMT. The true benefit of surrounding ourselves with high-performing peers willing to share knowledge is that we quickly saw our weaknesses, and it opened up horizons for how we could grow. We also are a member of The 20, and founder/CEO Tim Conkle has been a great resource for encouraging us to scale. In addition, we have recently joined IT Nation Evolve to continue our community building, and have been gaining clients through joint ventures with companies outside IT.

This is not an industry where you can hunker down for 30 years. We are constantly reevaluating our offerings and asking customers what matters to them. We recently added “security roadshows” to our marketing efforts, and we plan to develop other solutions and businesses that feed back into Mad Data. In the next five years, we plan to move our corporate headquarters to Dallas and have a goal of hitting $10 million. With all of our transition and change, we just had to give up the fear of failure.

Photography: Aaron Spicer


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