Interview Published February 19, 2004|
Suresh Srinivasan, Broadspire
Suresh Srinivasan is president of Broadspire (www.broadspire.com), a web hosting and services provider located in Los Angeles. Broadspire was named to the Deloitte & Touche Technology Fast 50 last year due to its revenue growth, and I thought it would be interesting to hear about the company and how it is succeeding in a crowded marketplace.
BK: What is Broadspire's business, and what services do you provide?
SS: Founded in 1996, BroadSpire (www.broadspire.com) is a leading managed IT services provider, headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. In delivering outsourced IT, data center outsourcing and fully managed Web hosting services, BroadSpire maintains a strict focus on customer service that has enabled the company to become a best-of-breed provider both in its service offerings and in its customer care. With discrete lines of business for enterprise and small/mid-size businesses, the company serves as a seamless extension of its customers' information technology infrastructure. BroadSpire has earned the trust of more than 2,000 companies worldwide, including BP Amoco, NBC, Yale University, Paramount Pictures, and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. BroadSpire is a member of the 2003 Deloitte & Touche Technology Fast 50 for the Los Angeles area.
BK: What are your channels to market, and how do you find and sell to your customers?
SS: We started a Reseller Program in the beginning that quickly attracted a good channel of VARs. These VARs essentially took our services & private labeled them, and resold them to their Customers. This gave us the ability to sell our services Worldwide through the leveraged reseller channel.
BK: How is BroadSpire different from the hundreds of other managed hosting providers in the market?
SS: The biggest differentiator between our competitors and us is that we wear our mid-size status with pride. We're part of a vanishing breed of providers who believe small(er) is beautiful. Our business philosophy keeps the company manageable and puts small to mid-size businesses on a par with our enterprise clients. We like to say that we offer "enterprise hosting for every business." What that means is that while we serve large organizations (our BroadSpire Enterprise customers) and small/mid-size businesses alike (our BroadSpire Express clients), we give those SMBs the full benefit of our enterprise experience/expertise - without losing the human touch, the responsiveness and the accountability that are often hard to find in larger hosting providers.
BK: What would you attribute your fast growth to, and why has BroadSpire been able to tap into this market effectively?
SS: Since BroadSpire's inception, we have adhered to the same strict business fundamentals through both up and down economies. By faithfully following our strategic business practices (see below), we continue to strengthen our reputation as being effective and responsive to our customers needs.
We firmly believe:
(1) There is no replacement for a good product or service. It is imperative to perfect what you sell and make sure it works perfectly each and every time. This gives you a platform for word-of-mouth and repeat business through existing customers. Make your Customers your biggest evangelists.
(2) Don't neglect existing customers to just find new ones. Your cost to acquire a new sale is drastically lower if you can just figure out what products you sell that existing customers don't already have. Survey customers. Increase survey response by giving away something for their time. Mine whatever data you already have. Once you've identified those customers, put in place a way for them to try those products before they buy. You may be amazed how well received your service might be, and how quickly you can grow your profits.
(3) Hire and retain good people: provide an incentive-oriented environment where employees partake in profits, aligned with your business goals. For instance, our main goal is to provide 100 percent customer satisfaction. To align employees, we provide spot bonuses, employee profit sharing, professional development and such for employees who exceed our customer's expectations time and again. Make them shoot for the stars and train, train, train.
(4) Partnerships can lead to lasting success and help you increase your capabilities. Profile your customer base. Figure out what other companies might sell services/products to them. Go after partnerships with those firms and offer reciprocal commission-based partnerships. This now becomes an alternate sales channel for you and you have an expanded product set to sell your own customers.
(5) Innovate relentlessly. If you're providing a service, such as we do, you have to continually put yourself in the shoes of your customers and solve their problems. Integrate the solution of these problems with the products you sell. Your customers will be happy, you'll solve more of their problems, and you're building your unique selling proposition at the same time (building competitive advantage).
(6) Perfect your unique selling proposition. Why is your product or service unique, and why should someone buy from you?
(7) Service, service, service. Whether you have a customer paying you one penny, or $100,000/month, that company is entrusting you with a critical service. Their hard earned money is paying your salary so be sure to treat them as if your salary depends on it, because it really does.
BK: What's the history behind BroadSpire, and why did your family found the company?
SS: My father (Natarajan "Cheenu" Srinivasan), brother (Arun) and I started BroadSpire in 1996. The idea for BroadSpire arose while I was working at a Vivendi Universal games company called Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard is a publisher of real-time strategy and role-playing games, and while I worked there, Blizzard was venturing into allowing its customers to play its games online. Arun and I quickly realized that most companies would utilize the Internet for commercial reasons and therefore place heavy demands on their Internet infrastructures. So, with a $5,000 investment on an American Express card, we set out to form BroadSpire to meet this anticipated demand. Though we don't disclose financials, I can give you a sense of how we've grown. We're profitable and debt-free, have 55 employees, and operate data centers in Los Angeles, Virginia, London and Amsterdam and sales/administrative offices in Los Angeles, London and Madras, India. We have over 2,000 customers in 35 countries around the world and host approximately 80,000 domains. We were a Preferred Pick of Tophosts.com in 2003, one of the Top Ten Hosts of Tophosts.com in 2002 and also made the Deloitte & Touche Los Angeles Technology Fast 50 in 2003.
BK: Finally, what's Broadspire's big goal for this year, and how are you working towards that goal?
SS: It's my personal belief that if you can dream of something you can achieve it. We have set some lofty goals for the Company for the next several years, all of which revolve around becoming a more and more strategic asset to our Customers. I don't just want companies to "use" us but instead I want companies to "need" us.
In the short term (2004) we see good expansion through opportunities in the Government sector.
Copyright (c) 2004 by Benjamin F. Kuo. All rights reserved.
May not be reprinted without permission.