IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Growth by Cloud

Kirill Bensonoff of ComputerSupport.com
With a homegrown cloud product and excellent contractors, ComputerSupport.com has been able to serve clients across the United States. By Kirill Bensonoff

In 2006, my partner and I started ComputerSupport.com, but we didn’t start fully serving clients until 2007. Back then we didn’t have a formal sales team; we relied on word of mouth and the people we knew through networking to grow the company, but it took us until 2010 to see any results.

We had a large customer at that time that had been with us almost since the beginning, and the company represented a sizable percentage of our revenue. That customer, a medical office, grew as well, and through acquisition ended up as a large regional provider. Unfortunately, the company decided to insource technology and hired a CIO and a director of IT.

That was a turning point. We knew we couldn’t depend on our customers to take us to the next level, and with a year’s notice from our medical customer we decided to start aggressively growing our company. What we didn’t know at the time was that the cloud solution we developed in 2009 for our own use would help get us where we needed to go.

Taking Business to the Cloud
Our solution, ITAnyWhere Cloud, began as a basic application hosting product. Public cloud was only a few years old and we didn’t want to go out to a co-location facility or buy servers, so we developed our own solution. It turned out that some of our customers needed little pieces of the product here and there as well. So they tried it, it worked well, and we continued developing it.

Essentially, it’s a replacement for the on-premises infrastructure for small businesses. Similar to Office365, we provide email, file sharing, Microsoft Office Suite, content management, and instant messaging. Where we differ is we are able to host all of our clients’ applications and provide the ability for people to work both online and offline, and offer compliance features for those that need it. We have a turnkey, secure product that comes with 24/7 managed services.

While we were developing our product, we didn’t lose sight of our plan to grow the company. So we created a marketing department that we could use to position us as a cloud company and MSP that provides value in the market. That was important to help potential customers understand that they couldn’t compare what we were offering to something they had before. They wanted to move beyond what they had before because it didn’t work for them.

So we took our message outside our primary geographic area. Our expansion strategy was not focused on opening offices in new locations, however. We were cloud focused, delivering a valuable offering with managed services that could be provided around the country to financial and professional services firms with fewer than 100 employees.

That’s the direction of our business and perhaps the industry in general. We now acquire new clients through our marketing and sales efforts, and have completed our first strategic acquisition. To serve these clients we developed a network of independent technicians. There were challenges finding the right people, of course, and developing processes for working with them. But we learned that the key to working with someone you don’t know well is communication—setting the right expectations and so on. We also try to work with the people who have consistently done a great job for us.

Beyond the technicians, there are challenges in geographic locations. We discovered, for example, that as we moved to different states or regions, there were pricing sensitivities. But we have not lowered our costs. Instead, we concentrate on establishing our value. Even with our ITAnyWhere Cloud product, we are just providing another way of doing IT—we still compete with companies that install servers and send technicians to service them. We compete even though we feel we have a unique product.

IT trends today enable cloud players to offer BYOD and many other solutions. And with a strong cloud presence—and the ability to reach our target audience across the U.S.—we can continue with our plans for growth.

 

Kirill Bensonoff
Principal Partner
ComputerSupport.com

LOCATION Framingham, Mass.

FOUNDED 2006

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES 30 full time, plus a few hundred independent technicians

COMPANY WEBSITE www.computersupport.com

COMPANY FOCUS We help business executives get the most out of their technology investments, on premises and in the cloud. We’re a business enabler.

FAVORITE PART OF MY JOB Product development. In 2009, I was involved with the development of our cloud-based hosting product, which enables clients to reduce or eliminate their IT infrastructure. It’s now in its third generation, and I’m still involved in the product’s architecture and roadmap. My second favorite is talking about how the product and our other services can help our customers do their business better.

LEAST FAVORITE PART The HR-related issues that come up

WHAT PEOPLE WOULD BE SURPRISED TO KNOW ABOUT ME I moved here from Belarus when I was 11 years old.

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