IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Introducing the 2017 ChannelPro Visionaries: Our Picks for This Year's Channel Thought Leaders: Page 2 of 2

Of all the masterminds and trailblazers in the SMB channel, these individuals got the nod for the past year’s top thought leadership accomplishments.


By ChannelPro

Gil Pekelman
Atera Networks Ltd.
An Israeli company with North American headquarters in New York, Atera is hardly the biggest name in managed services software. Under Gil Pekelman’s leadership, however, it’s developed a habit of anticipating where the industry is heading and getting there first.

While leading vendors have been scrambling to combine RMM and PSA software into unified suites of late, for example, Atera brought its all-in-one RMM/PSA offering to the United States more than two years ago. Nearly one year ago it introduced a benchmarking tool MSPs can use to measure their performance on key metrics against their peers, something far larger rivals are just getting around to now.

We’ll really know Pekelman is a visionary, though, if the top dogs in RMM and PSA solutions someday mimic Atera’s potentially disruptive pricing scheme, which charges a flat monthly subscription fee for each technician using the system rather than each endpoint those technicians manage.

Herman Pool
Vertical Axion
Herman Pool has tough news for you, channel pros: Customer service, no matter how good it is, will never make your business a winner on its own. The difference between IT leaders and laggards, he contends, is marketing.

It’s a lesson Pool learned the hard way 20 years ago, when he was a teenage entrepreneur running a computer business by day and sleeping in a 1989 Honda Accord by night. Hard work and great service had a disappointingly small impact on revenue. But implementing an effective marketing plan grew his top line 300 percent in 18 months.

These days, Pool lives in a house and shares his hard-earned knowledge of topics like branding, messaging, and value propositions with clients of his internet marketing agency, Vertical Axion. Last year, he put his insights down on paper as well, in a book called One Hour Marketing: The Entrepreneur's Guide to Simple Effective Marketing. A mere 146 pages long, it’s about as clear and concise a how-to guide to a complex and—for many IT providers—intimidating subject as you’re likely to find anywhere.

Steve Rutkovitz
Choice Cybersecurity
It takes more than just vision to walk away from a flourishing business and start all over again. It takes a degree of confidence in that vision that most people lack.

Steve Rutkovitz summoned that confidence a year ago when he sold Choice Technologies, his managed services shop, and went all-in on what had to that point been a side practice offering security and compliance training to fellow MSPs. Drawing on know-how accumulated through years of supporting clients, Rutkovitz now offers in-depth instruction in assessing customer environments, applying “defense in depth” protection strategies, and maintaining those defenses over time.

It’s a timely service. With security risks as severe now as at any time in history, even experienced channel pros can struggle to keep pace with the latest threats and counter-measures. Rutkovitz has taken a bold step to fill the need for concrete guidance implied by that fact.

Arlin Sorensen
HTG Peer Groups
By now, the peer groups that former MSP Arlin Sorensen has been running in one form or another since 2000 are a familiar presence on the channel landscape. His recent efforts to diversify what they deliver and how people participate in them has made an already popular source of best-practices counsel more relevant for a wider swath of IT service providers.

In addition to the original in-person discussion groups, members can now join online-only ones and more prescriptive groups offering detailed instruction on business growth practices, or send their service managers and sales executives to specialized groups of their own. The new options reflect Sorensen’s recognition that MSPs need different kinds of assistance at different stages in their evolution, as well as his unyielding desire to ensure that everyone has access to precisely the help they need.

Luke Walling
Temprano Techvestors
The idea for channel veteran Luke Walling’s latest business came to him while working for AVG, the security and managed services software vendor headquartered in Amsterdam, and Avast Software, the Prague-based security vendor that acquired AVG last year.

Europe, his time there revealed, is packed with fledgling makers of interesting software products. The only thing stopping them from bringing those products to North America is a lack of time, resources, and knowledge of a deeply unfamiliar overseas market.

Walling now provides all three. In exchange for a portion of their revenue and sometimes an equity stake, Temprano Techvestors designs and executes a complete strategy for bringing vendors’ wares to North American IT buyers. It’s a win-win-win arrangement too. Growing European software vendors gain access to millions of potential customers, U.S. and Canadian channel pros gain access to resalable solutions they’d otherwise know nothing about, and Walling himself shares financially in everyone’s success.

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