NXT: What is AMSYS Innovative Solutions?
AMSYS IS is a full-service, nationwide IT services provider. We offer infrastructure consulting services, SaaS managed IT services, cloud migration, software development, engineering and construction for utility companies including AT&T and other telcos, and IT staffing.
Through our network of 1,300 engineers, we also provide field services for other IT companies on a white-label basis. For example, an IT services company in Austin has a client in New Jersey, who needs some IT work done on site. We show up at the client as part of the IT company’s team.
NXT: Why did you get started?
I came to the country in 1998 with $100 in my pocket. My background is engineering in hardware & networking, and I was 18 years old then. I took a few jobs that allowed me to learn the American economy and systems, how businesses work here. And soon I felt comfortable enough to start AMSYS IS in 2003.
NXT: Why did you think it was such a great idea? Did you identify a unique gap in the market?
I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I immediately noticed a big need to help companies network their systems. Especially the smaller to medium sized companies had lots of systems cobbled together that weren’t talking to each other.
My vision was to help companies’ systems communicate seamlessly both internally and externally.
Of course, I had to start small, and opened up as a break & fix shop for small companies in the Houston area. But now we’re working with companies that have 25+ employees up to the thousands all across the nation.
NXT: Especially after the dot-com bust I’d think that IT services would be a pretty competitive field, no?
Indeed there were lots of IT services companies. But the biggest need was for small businesses that had only 5-10 employees. They had IT guys who didn’t understand or “speak” business.
When the owner of the company or a business manager tried to solve a business problem, the IT guy was unable to understand it and build a solution to create a system and automate things.
That’s where I came in. My niche was that I could really understand both IT and business. Our “WHY” from very early on was to integrate technology and business to make operations more productive and efficient.
This is a very unique value proposition, especially for clients of that size. Taking business issues and bringing technology to automate processes can deliver very strong ROI.
NXT: Can you share an example here?
Sure, many examples. But just to give you a better sense, take a client of ours in the masonry business. They supply bricks to their customers. Back then, there was no ERP system for the masonry vertical to handle their inventories and orders. So we created a custom one for them, to give them exactly the information they needed in order to make the right decisions in real time.
NXT: How did you win your first client?
It was actually a referral. I had lots of ex-clients from my previous work, who found out I started my own firm and they gravitated towards me.
NXT: How are you finding and winning over clients now?
You may be surprised but I’d say 95% of our business still comes in through referrals. We’ve been in business for 15 years now. So our past clients send us new clients and there’s lots of word-of-mouth working in our favor.
NXT: Why do clients gravitate towards you, what is it about your positioning makes you so different from competitors?
We’ve established a strong reputation in the industry. We’re not the low-cost provider, but we’re the low-risk provider. You’d think it’s all about price, but in our business it really isn’t. Companies can’t take chances to have a project fail, a contractor leave them in the middle of an implementation, or execute something that works sub-optimally.
We assume full ownership and accountability for a project. If we say we’ll do something, we’ll deliver on time and on budget. In fact, if we quote something and realize later that the scope was a bit more extensive than what we budgeted for, we’ll take the hit.
We make sure we deliver as promised. Our word is our bond and we always make good for our customers. You’ll be hard pressed to find such a customer-centric mentality anywhere else. And it’s paid off in spades because we’re known for that and clients really value this approach.
Being a low-risk provider helps us a lot also with winning business for government projects. We’re a minority business enterprise and we do a lot of work for the city, state, and federal govt.
NXT: As you continue to grow, are you starting to bump up against the big players in the industry?
Of course, we’re often coming up against IBM, Accenture, Cognizant. But we don’t have thousands of people to train on new solutions so we can be much more nimble.
So we can execute the strategy of a large company but we also bring to our clients all the benefits of a smaller consulting company.
NXT: What’s your secret sauce for growth?
I’d single out 3 things: Integrity, Reputation, and Culture.
Instead of having a large sales force, we rely on a carefully built affiliate partner network. Because of our integrity in all our dealings, we’ve build tremendous trust with our partners.
One- they know that we’ll deliver the best solutions and service to the clients they refer us to. And two- they know we’ll deliver as promised on our dealings with them.
We give them 25% of the profit for the life of the customer. We have the best affiliate deal out there, and we make sure we honor all our deals 100%. The result is that we have the best channel partners that are skyrocketing our growth.
We have a very strong reputation that our word is our bond. Even if we mis-scoped a project and it means that we’ll lose money on it, we’ll never go back to a client and adjust the budget. That way, we’ve built a reputation of a transparent and low-risk provider you can really rely on.
But at the end of the day, it’s all about the people. As you grow, how do you make sure that everyone upholds the company’s values and adds to its reputation? Our core value is FIT: family, innovation, teamwork.
We take care of our employees like they are family. In return, we ask them and give them all the resources they need in order to demonstrate innovation. And everything is tied together and amplified with teamwork.
NXT: Perhaps the biggest growth catalyst is your network of channel partners – how do you find, develop, and retain channel partners?
The way it typically works is that a customer calls one of our channel partner and says “I’m looking for great IT services provider”. Our channel partners want to refer their customers to someone who can execute the work properly and deliver on time and on budget.
Two things are critical in our success with channel partners:
- They know that we will deliver, so we protect their own reputation to their customers.
- We offer compelling profit sharing for the life of a customer.
Then, the word spreads: I’m part of the AMSYS partner network and I’m making money and it’s recurring commissions. We have partners who generate >$10,000 / month even though they’re doing this on the side. This is not their job.
NXT: What’s your vision for AMSYS IS?
AMSYS IS is actually part of a much bigger whole. We have AMSYS GROUP with 6 verticals.
- Technology, which AMSYS IS is a part of
- Healthcare: we offer medical billing, collections, and managed services
- Energy: we offer managed services
- Real estate: we buy commercial buildings
- Wealth management: we offer wealth services for HNW individuals
- Private equity: we invest in businesses and retain operational control to bring them to the next level
NXT: How do these puzzle pieces fit together?
We have a bit of a Berkshire Hathaway model going on. AMSYS IS is the flagship company that helps me keep generating cashflow and invest in other businesses.
I either start a business or invest/buy a business with majority control (it’s probably a 70-30 split), where I can support a great operating CEO. And we leverage our business & tech expertise with AMSYS IS to bring these companies to the next level.
NXT: Where do you see opportunity in the future?
We’re currently working on blockchain development and formed a blockchain division with a number of programmers. This is the latest tech we’re riding to fuel our longer term growth.
Blockchain is a disruptor that decentralizes ownership of information, and helps you create complex systems very fast. We’re working with major insurance companies, hospitals’ electronic records, and other large clients.
We use blockchain as a way to get our foot in the door with new clients… It’s a hot area, which makes it easier to go in and sell blockchain services. And then, once we establish a relationship and trust, we also sell IT staffing and nationwide IT implementation services.