Since the very first Technori Meetup in 2010, our mission has been simple; make it easier for entrepreneurs to start and scale a business.
And, we’ve done this. Consistently. For almost a decade. Whether it’s providing media exposure or a platform for founders to fundraise directly from our audience at Startup Showcase (more than $1 billion in Venture Capital, and $30+ million via equity crowdfunding – but who’s counting 🙄), networking dinners and strategic intros, or our recent activity investing directly into startups – Technori has been the place early stage companies go to find their first investors, customers and employees!
Now, it’s time to add another resource to that list: TECH
I’ve always believed that the key to business success is scaling around an unfair advantage. For me it’s always been media. For my partner Mike Rothman, it’s technology.
As the founder of one of Chicago’s most profitable tech firms, SMS Assist, Mike and his team discovered a serious problem as they began to approach the often celebrated “hockey stick”. “We’re going to hit a wall if we don’t invest more into technology development (cloud infrastructure and integration, more specifically),” Mike recalled on my podcast following his $150 million Goldman Sachs-led round valuing the company at more than $1 billion.
But, as a fast-growing startup, how do you convince your Board to invest four out of every five million in profit on an unknown? It’s simple, as Mike put it:
You can’t manage what you can’t see – Mike Rothman
Building a successful business requires foresight and the ability to not only develop great products for your customers, but for yourselves, as well. Ask any number of the hundreds of founders and CEOs interviewed on my Podcast and WGN Radio Show and they’ll say the same – the things that are most important to success during any rapid growth period are:
Ability to know your numbers and create line-of-sight (David Kalt, Reverb)
Find product-market-fit as fast as possible (Ryan Bonnici, G2)
Build a team that scales faster than demand (Victor Ciardelli, Rate.com)
Access to funding when needed (and even better when it’s not) (Everyone)
For the past year we’ve been developing a service that we feel the market’s missing – an outsourced technology solution that was specifically designed to solve the pain points experienced by fast-growing companies like SMS Assist. Think about it, if you’re a growth company approaching the J-curve; what are your options for hiring talent?
There is recruiting, something we as founders all agree is not well suited to support us at scale – too expensive. Staff augmentation – too unreliable (especially if you don’t have a great training program). Tech-in-a-box – too limited. Unmanaged offshore – quality control or ‘spaghetti code’ as the CTOs like to call it.
Finally, a technology solution built to help growth companies scale faster!
Managed Offshore With Almost Unlimited Flexibility
There is no question at the current pace of tech growth in Chicago (and beyond) sustainability is going to be a major problem. Our current combined-cost of workspace and employment ranks Chicago as one of the best in the country (according to MBRE). But, that means more competition – more Facebook, more Google, more Salesforce, more Uber (to say nothing about the startup stalwarts, Relativity, FourKites, ActiveCampaign, etc.) sucking up all of the talent and for better and worse – driving up costs. And, this is all to say nothing of the looming recession that has many founders and investors worried about longevity. As TechCrunch recently wrote about, tech growth isn’t going anywhere – if anything, it’s going to accelerate – but the way in which we scale operations HAS TO CHANGE or else many of the darlings of tech will run out of funding.
So, what’s a founder to do?
Building an offshore technology component into your company’s org chart allows you to increase productivity by as much as 30%, while also significantly reducing spend on much of the behind-the-scenes, ‘hard-to-hire-for’ grunt-work, so you can afford to hire the VERY best talent at key positions.
How does it work?
Our innovative partnership approach enables us to blend sector-specific onshore developers, product managers and data analysts with your core team to create a seamless 24-hour work cycle with our managed offshore resources, ensuring that your leadership team can maintain control of both its tech and team.
The beauty behind this methodology, and what worked especially well for SMS Assist, was the scalability factor. Being able to have an affordable talent engine already trained with domain knowledge revving in the background so that during certain stretches of rapid growth teams can be powered up and down as need; only paying for what they use, rather than over hiring.
Partners That Know What It Takes To Build A Unicorn
It almost goes without saying, but the adage ‘the most valuable commodity is information‘ certainly applies here. There are tons of organizations attempting to serve the technology, consulting and offshore development markets – but how many used their own process and product to build a unicorn? That’s the case when partnering with us. Not only are we offering up our own unfair advantage, but you get the ‘grey matter’ (the network and experience) that goes along with that.
When I hear founders talk about ‘growing pains’, it’s typically the realization that you can no longer expect employees to grind as hard as the original crew – something I call the 9-9-6 (9a to 9p, 6 days per week). Building something special takes an incredible work ethic, and no offense intended to my friends in recruiting or staffing augmentation businesses, to properly serve growth companies you need a team that puts that sort of work in; something we have found China to be exceptional at.
And, that is where traditional outsourcing solutions fall short too (and why shouldn’t it, they weren’t built for this type of application).
When we partner with clients we bring everything we have to the table, be it; capital, strategic connections, local talent, offshore resources, operational experience, whatever is needed to help support your goals.
This is the reason our portfolio companies and clients continue to trust us with their tech, because they know we’re investing in them as much or more than they’re investing in us – which is how it should be. Building a unicorn (or any successful enterprise for that matter) requires a specialized team and we deliver that because that is exactly what we’re built to do.
A More Powerful Way To Drive Growth
During the IPO craze that was the first half of 2019, several elite tech firms raised a boatload of cash, and they got a lot of press for it, but what the stories didn’t include was that for most of them, offshore technology was a major factor to not only how fast they’d been able to scale, but how quickly they were able to find profitability, as was the case with ZOOM.
In a world where acquiring users first and revenue later is still commonplace – investors are more often looking for companies that display a path to profitability. And, any economic downturn will surely make that even more pronounced. As was the case for SMS Assist and now for several of our portfolio companies and clients; implementing a controlled approach to tech development with lower churn and higher output has significantly increased both the time between raises and valuation at each round.
To learn more about working with our team, or just to provide some solid feedback I’d be very excited to hear from you!