A challenge facing managed services providers is the threat they pose to internal IT teams. Martin Kosasih, director of sales and operations at Sydney-based Virtunet, has seen many MSPs come to grief as they encroached on internal IT and were seen as threats to the jobs of staff.
Being empathetic to this tension helped Virtunet grow by 121.1 percent to reach $8.1 million for the financial year. “We focus a lot on the relationship and we realised early on that we’re in a people business,” says Kosasih.
Virtualisation services are a core focus. “When we started, we wanted to help SMBs embrace virtualisation. We had a very simple way to sell and everything was included as well as installation and training.”
Training and managing staff within client business helped ease any possible tension. “So many big players focused on managed services, they forgot that the IT people care about their jobs and want to grow IT internally instead of outsourcing.”
Kosasih structures his business around approaches to people, processes, knowledge and tools.
“One good example is our move to the cloud. That has enabled our staff to be flexible in terms of working hours and work remotely if needed. Cloud is all about mobility for us.”
Kosasih says the team structure ensures that customer queries are answered in 10-15 minutes. “There’s never just one person for a customer. A customer typically has two to three people including an account manager, licensing and solutions specialist so we have quite a bit of redundancy in that sense. We have a very flat structure.”
Although Virtunet started out with SMBs, the draw of mid-market, enterprise and government has been irresistible, Kosasih says.
“We had to choose between them and we decided to align to the bigger guys and that was a good decision. We’re very big on mid-market, 500-1,000 users, local government and education. And quite a handful of enterprise customers.”
Virtunet now claims just 5 percent of business in SMB, with 50 percent mid-market, 30 percent enterprise and 15 percent government.
To jump-start its move up the ladder to bigger customers, Kosasih hired people familiar with their requirements. It also required Kosasih to become entrepreneurial and hit the cocktail circuit: “I do a lot of networking activities and use business coaching”.
Kosasih credits vendors such as VMware, Microsoft and Lenovo for his success although he says Virtunet “tries to be as agnostic as possible”. It’s also pushing Google Apps and Office 365, especially in schools with Chromebooks, although prestigious schools still tend to opt for Virtunet’s Apple and iPad solutions.
This has inspired Kosasih to engage former teachers as IT engineers because they speak the educators’ language.
Kosasih has been bitten by The E-myth, a book that explains why everything people think they know about small business is probably wrong. “One of the things that changed the business in recent years is understanding the importance of people,” Kosasih says. “We see staff members as contributors and stakeholders. We have built a culture of leadership and taking ownership in the way we do business and we love entrepreneurship.”
Kosasih says processes he instilled in Virtunet “allow for creativity to flourish in the best way”.
“We have lots of fun and a very vibrant culture that’s evident in our marketing strategy and how we connect to clients.”
Key executive Martin Kosasih (managing director)
HQ Rosebery, NSW
2014 revenue $8.1 million
Headcount 20 full-time, 60 part-time and subcontractors
Top vendor HP
Top distributor Dicker Data