Interview Published November 13, 2003|
Eric David Greenspan, Make It Work LLC
Santa Barbara-based Make It Work (www.makeitwork.com) announced that it recently raised a small seed round of funding. I talked with Founder, President, and CEO of the company, Eric David Greenspan, to get a better idea of what the company does and his plans.
BK: What is make it work, and how are you different from other companies in the system integration/support business?
EDG: Make it work is the first computer services company dedicated to home users and really small businesses (RSBs). RSBs are defined as small businesses without a server. Due to the proliferation of computer equipment available from the multitude of superstores in every city, online and through local/smaller shops, most homes have at least one computer today. MIW is a home user it department. All services are provided onsite. Customer service technicians (CSTs) arrive onsite, in a red/white mini cooper, full of personality and charisma and deliver solutions leaving the customer with a feeling of satisfaction and delight. MIW is also unique in that it focuses on responsiveness and unbelievable customer service. Our customers love doing business with us. We know our stuff, we deliver, and we bring a smile to their faces. We hire csts based on personality first, then skillset, and train them through our proprietary MIW bootcamp. Our systems are robust, allowing us to expand rapidly and properly administer.
BK: Are there specific types of computing systems you support, and types of technology (ie handling not only pcs and software but networking, cable modems?)
EDG: We support all types of PCs and Macs, all OSes. PCs, networking, wireless, security solutions, anti-spam/virus/popups/spyware solutions, cable/DSL/wireless internet solutions including partnerships with all the local ISPs for connectivity and full solution from modem to firewall to training on usage, single point of contact for all, home theater (Windows Media Center Edition) and full integration and configuration of audio/video componentry, from consulting on plasma vs. DLP to even setting the clock on your VCR, troubleshooting, disaster recovery, data recovery (bit by bit using advanced tools where necessary), backup solutions, and on and on.
BK: Why did you decide to seek out angel funding, and what will those funds be used for?
EDG: MIW was already proving the concept, profitable and building its client base. The concept of home user and really small business was working, so we realized we had something here. So, we decided to raise some capital to grow faster and to become the brand name in the industry, worldwide. Total domination of the industry, that's our goal. Think Kinko's, In-N-Out Burger, and Microsoft.
BK: How did you find your angel investors?
EDG: Through existing social and client relationships. I have been at this game (2 prior companies) for over 14 years, so i have many contacts. I started my career at IBM and formed the first MIW in 1995, sold it in 2000 and reformed the new MIW in 2001.
BK: How long did it take to ink this seed investment?
EDG: A few weeks for the initial infusion, then the balance closed in less than 3 months.
BK: Do you see a need for more capital, or do you think this seed round will get you far enough along to build the business?
EDG: We plan to raise $1 million within the next 6 months to accelerate growth, that has been the plan since inception. Profitable in one year and highly profitable thereafter. With our current investor pool, we see this as a small challenge...only concern is selling at the right price. Working on building the valuation and profitability concurrently!
BK: Why the focus on home users and small businesses?
EDG: Because it is an untapped market, wide open, awaiting a leader to emerge. There are many neighborhood whiz kids doing this type of work, but their limited resources and inability to delivery a full service solution hamper their ability to dominate. We're really good at it. Our entire model revolves around these solutions. Our typical client needs troubleshooting of typical day to day problems; upgrades to next os, av, etc.; training; small network solution, wireless is very popular as you know and of course security solutuions. Next, with home theater and computing converging, i.e. Windows media center edition, we will be in the forefront of these types of solutons, from home theater, appliances integration and home automation.
We stumbled into this as we started getting call after call from home users. We realized that this time (different from our B2B mentality in the first MIW 1995-2000) we would avoid the corporate enterprise clients and focus on the hrsb market instead. So far, so good. We have beat our forecast every month.
BK: can you be price competitive to the "neighborhood whiz kids", and are your users willing to pay more for your services?
EDG: You bet they will, they do, as we currently book 10-15 appts everyday and our price is knowingly slightly higher then the N.W.K., but our experience and responsiveness and ability to offer a total solution has garnered wide acceptance.
BK: What's the biggest obstacle to your growth?
EDG: Hiring/training. Although, our model revolves around solving this problem, it is simply a large amount of work to recruit/hire/train excellence. We will settle for nothing less, so we put the burden on ourselves. The pool of potential CSTs is widespread...resumes fly in daily in droves.
BK: What is the next big step for your company?
EDG: Dominate Socal, perfect the soup (systems) and then take on the nation, establishing MIW as the brand name in the industry.
Copyright (c) 2003 by Benjamin F. Kuo. All rights reserved.
May not be reprinted without permission.