Colin Knox Finds His New “Why” and Launches Gradient MSP

Software entrepreneur and former MSP owner Colin Knox has launched Gradient MSP, a technology company that will help MSPs and vendors to more closely align their businesses for success, while “Leveling Up” the overall industry, he tells ChannelE2E. The first Gradient MSP product is expected to launch in June 2021.

Knox is well known in and around the global MSP ecosystem. He previously launched, built and sold XCEL Professional Services, an MSP that acquired in 2016. ( is now backed by private equity.) Knox also launched, built and sold Passportal, an MSP password management and documentation platform that SolarWinds MSP acquired in April 2019. From there, he led the SolarWinds MSP global community before exiting the business in September 2020.

Colin Knox: (Re) Start With Why

Like many entrepreneurs who have successfully built and sold businesses, Knox has spent recent months carefully considering how he wants to spend his time. Among his recent reads: Start With Why, a best-selling book that describes how “great leaders inspire everyone to take action.”

Loyal ChannelE2E readers may recall how that book helped to inspire ChannelE2E’s launch. As I told readers in 2016, make sure your business strategy aligns with your ‘Why‘ — the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires you to do what you do.

So, why is Knox building Gradient MSP? The answer involves his personal business journey. Indeed, he is the rare MSP industry veteran who has successfully built and exited both a service provider and a software company.

I suspect only a few dozen MSP entrepreneurs in the world have completed similar journeys spanning service provider and software firm. Names like Arnie Bellini and David Bellini (ConnectWise and a Tampa IT service provider); Chris Day (IT Glue and Fully Managed); and Brian and Eric Dosal (BrightGauge and Compuquip) come to mind.

Colin Knox Launches Gradient MSP: Business Focus

So what do those rare executives have in common? They truly understand MSP pain points as well as vendor pain points — and the disconnects that can emerge between MSPs and their technology suppliers.

With that reality in mind, it’s a safe bet Knox and Gradient MSP will seek to address those disconnects, while helping MSPs to more easily consume third-party products to scale their recurring revenue businesses.

For now, Knox says he’s in extended listen mode. In some ways, Gradient MSP sounds like a consulting company that will help MSPs and vendors to find better alignment. But listen a bit more closely, and I don’t think this is a consulting play. Instead, Knox is quietly building some sort of technology stack that will give MSPs of all sizes improved vision to run their businesses — while helping those MSPs to more easily adopt vendor solutions.

The effort will include at least one free offer or freeware development that gives back to the industry. Ultimately, he wants to “Level Up” the industry. Stay tuned for more details in June 2021.


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    Colin Knox:

    Thanks again for the conversation Joe. We look forward to sharing more over the coming months, but doing even more listening to those who are interested in telling us about their own experiences.

    Joe Panettieri:

    Colin: Thanks for the ongoing updates. I look forward to more details in June 2021. Wishing you all the best.

    Stuart R Crawford:

    Starts With Why is an amazing book…I believe it was Stuart Selbst that introduced it to me. Congrats Colin on your future.

    Jay McBain:

    This is fantastic – I especially like the name Gradient MSP – “an inclined part of a road or railway; a slope.” or “an increase in the magnitude of a property (e.g. temperature, pressure, or concentration) observed in passing from one point or moment to another.” Both VERY applicable to this market in 2021.

    Jeremy Young:

    Exciting news! Looking forward to learning more and seeing the new business grow.

    Colin Knox:

    Thank you Stuart.

    Jay, you hit it bang on! It’s also a fluid and seamless integration between two sides of a spectrum. 😉

    Gerwai Todd:

    @Colin: Congrats! Great to see you solving a new challenge.

    @Jay: I expect more precision from you next time. 🙂

    Colin Knox:

    Thanks Gerwai and Jeremy!

    Mike Booker:

    I’m extremely grateful I stumbled upon this article and the Simon Sinek reference really hit home. I found that to be an inspiring read and cite it often. I’m on a similar journey and I’m looking forward to follow Colin’s trail more closely.


    Love the concept. Many MSPs have an opportunity to level up in 2022. I propose less efforts to increase margins and more efforts to strengthen long-term relationships. Good luck. -T

    Dylan Natter:

    Sounds interesting. Looking forward to see what Gradient MSP is all about.

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