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ConnectWise: A Focused Family

President and COO Matt Nachtrab says ConnectWise has harnessed the synergies of its business units and is poised to scale. By Joel Zaidspiner

Matt Nachtrab, formerly CEO of LabTech Software, was named president and COO of ConnectWise in November 2015. He spoke recently with ChannelPro’s Joel Zaidspiner about the restructured company and the new synergies between business units. This is an edited excerpt of that conversation.

ChannelPro-SMB: What’s the state of the union on the company? 

Matt Nachtrab: We’re doing great. …Between LabTech and ConnectWise we share over 2,500 partners. [Previously,] they weren’t feeling like it was one company. A lot of that had to do with organizational structure. It wasn’t set up right to get the full synergies of us all [ConnectWise, LabTech Software, Quosal, and ScreenConnect] coming together.

So we started talking about the best way to structure it. The goal was how do we give the existing entrepreneurs in these business units a similar feeling like they were running their own company as CEOs, with joint ventures, in a model that’s scalable. And so we created business units. It’s really important that they stay very focused on their product area but then also [make] the suite initiatives function. You need to be the champion within your business unit for that business suite functionality.

Everybody's really positive. The cultures are blending really well. We can create the exact, same process for how we educate our partner base. And so it’s just really aligned, now, for scale. The partners aren’t going to feel it everywhere right away but I think they could probably see it onstage [at IT Nation in November] at [CEO] Arnie’s [Bellini] keynote.

In the software industry, not many companies acquire software companies and truly carry forward a vision of a suite – it’s really hard. Arnie’s leading that. I'm involved with maturing the rest of the company so that we can scale.  

ChannelPro-SMB: So you basically created a family. Everybody gets their own room but they all are now under one roof. What will current and prospective ConnectWise partners see?

Nachtrab: We understand all the different services that MSPs offer, and line that all the way up from the literature they could use to communicate to their customers, to the operational procedures to implement that service within their business, to actually getting invoices out the door and getting payments. We’ve got that whole thing. Now, we’ve got the structure in place.

And so the effect of getting it all in one house and organized, and getting the family fully together, yeah, it’s almost like everybody went off to college and now everybody moved back into the same house. And everybody—at a much more mature state in our career, after going through what we did—can divide and conquer a little bit more.

With David [Bellini, president and managing director, ConnectWise International], international is just a massive expansion area. You go to a trade show in the U.K. and the number of people that know ConnectWise is a much smaller percentage of the total than it is here. So David chose to lead that expansion.

ChannelPro-SBM: So let’s talk about LabTech. You’ve done some significant partnerships with Symantec and Malwarebytes recently.

Nachtrab: We’ve been working with Symantec for a long time. We’ve been working with Malwarebytes for a long time, too. We’re excited to get those products [integrated and able to be purchased through LabTech]. The way we’ve always approached our relationships with vendors is, the technology that we essentially buy, integrate with our software, and resell is at a partnership level.

We really want to make sure they’re not seeing us as someone buying the software. It’s more we’re partnering to get their software to a community. And we’ve proven to add value to our partners and add value to the ISPs to get their technology quicker into the hands of our partners. Our partners like to manage as much as they can through the LabTech console. And so we’ve found that when we integrate with new partners like Malwarebytes we have a very high adoption rate and we can get this awesome technology more easily usable by our partners.

Security is definitely going to become more and more important to MSPs. And so the more security products that we can get tightly integrated into [Labtech] the better [off] our partner base is. We’re focused on making sure we continue with that.

We did shift the model a little bit. Early on, we did the development of the interfaces. We started to have some difficulties scaling that so we’ve created an open architecture, an API set that pretty much anybody can access to integrate into the LabTech platform. All brands were independently doing that. LabTech’s got just tons of technologies integrated into it.

It’s immersive, which is really cool. You look up the computer that you're trying to support, or the user is saying “hey, it’s slow.”  There’s a Malwarebytes tab that has that computer’s information on it. Run a scan or do the different integration points right from the computer in the LabTech control center. It’s not data integration. It’s full-blown integration into our suite of technologies.

ChannelPro-SMB: What’s ConnectWise’s competitive differentiator?

Nachtrab: One of the things that makes our suite unique is you have solutions that are very, very powerful, that are open. Look at the number of integration partners … and the depth of that integration. The depth and power within each of the suites is each one of them is very strong and can stand on their own. Sure, we had a lot of LabTech partners that used ConnectWise as well, but over half of our partners don’t. And so our products individually are leaders in the marketplace. And because they can all stand on their own  because of the depth of the functionality, it just makes the suite a superior overall solution.

All of us came from the channel. … And the conversations within the company are a lot easier because we all have a general understanding of the industry that we serve. The collection of talent we have, if we can get ourselves organizing and executing extraordinarily, I don't know how anybody can keep up with it in our industry. And we’re focused on our industry. It’s fun stuff.



About the Author

Joel Zaidspiner is Associate Publisher for ChannelPro-SMB magazine and a senior executive at the ChannelPro Network. A seasoned IT media veteran, Zaidspiner has nearly 18 years in the industry with seven at the ChannelPro Network and more than nine at the tech media company formerly known as CMP. Zaidspiner is a mainstay at industry events and works closely with the Publisher on day to day operations and editorial strategy for ChannelPro Network media properties.

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