Matt Nachtrab remains on ConnectWise's board of directors, and he's still in regular contact with the company's executive team. But Nachtrab no longer is a day-to-day employee at the company, stepping away to take some time off and figure out what to do next on the career front.
Before you ask where Nachtrab might be heading, it's important to understand some MSP industry history. The backstory involves ConnectWise Co-founders Arnie and David Bellini launching an investment fund around 2010, and pumping money into startups that could help MSPs to grow. ConnectWise itself was profitable, debt free and growing quickly. But incubating new companies and new products would allow the business to grow even more quickly, the Bellini's believed. (History proved them correct.)
Updated February 21, 2017: Matt Nachtrab Joins eFolder
Somewhere in late 2009 or 2010, ConnectWise spotted LabTech Software -- a fledgling RMM (remote monitoring and management) software company co-founded by Nachtrab. By investing in LabTech, ConnectWise shifted the MSP software landscape toward deeper PSA-RMM (professional services automation-remote monitoring and management) software integrations. But the strategy didn't end there. ConnectWise investments in companies like Quosal and ScreenConnect also emerged. By 2015, ConnectWise reorganized all of the assets under a single corporate umbrella.
"Matt and I have been on a journey, with the rest of the ConnectWise team, to build LabTech, Quosal and ConnectWise into the premier Business Suite for Technology Solution providers," Bellini told ChannelE2E. "Matt has always had a high entrepreneurial drive that will suite him well as he pursues new adventures. We are excited to have Matt on the Board of Directors and believe his new direction will bring valued perspective to ConnectWise."
But what exactly is Nachtrab's new direction? I think the simple answer involves a journey of discovery -- an entrepreneur who wanted to step away from a day-to-day job to see how else he might help the IT services industry. We caught up with Nachtrab to look back on his journey so far, and perhaps even get a peek at what's ahead. Here's our discussion.
ChannelE2E: Why did you decide to leave ConnectWise?
Nachtrab: The way I look at it, I am not leaving ConnectWise because I am still involved heavily with my responsibilities as a Director on the Board. I both valued and enjoyed the experience of helping to build the LabTech and ConnectWise brands and organizations. I have spent a lot of years building LabTech and ConnectWise focused internally on scaling the company. The reason I stepped out of my management role is to apply my skills to other businesses and to gain exposure to other rapid growing software companies. I want to work with some new teams and see how they have approached building their business and help them take it to the next level. I also want learn from professionals that invest in the software industry. I plan to take what I learn from my next adventures and apply it to my ConnectWise board role.
ChannelE2E: As you look back on your time with LabTech and ConnectWise, what were some of the key milestones — for you, the company and/or the industry?
Nachtrab: When Greg Buerk and I initially joined forces I wanted to get 50 companies using LabTech to show that it was a viable product. That first 50 was the hardest in my opinion, but now we have over 5000 companies using LabTech. Unfortunately, I cannot share some of the detailed revenue numbers that I am very proud of at LabTech, but we did achieve the Inc. 500 two years in a row -- 53rd in 2013 and 354th in 2014.
In 2010, ConnectWise and LabTech pioneered what became a trend of PSA and RMM companies getting tighter and tighter relationships. We continue to have the leading combination of a PSA and RMM solution. I learned so much from and with Arnie and the ConnectWise team as we scaled the businesses together.
Brett Cheloff started as an Intern at Nemsys for no pay other than lunches and a Monster drink every once in a while. I love him like a brother and I am unbelievably proud to see Brett Cheloff taking over and leading all of LabTech. Initial signs show that he is doing a great job as the new Leader of LabTech.
I am very proud that we got the companies successfully fully merged into one. We had built a pretty complex equity and corporate structure and I was instrumental in simplifying all of it into one company. It was a monumental task. This sets a unified ConnectWise up to improve the functionality of the suite and drive even greater partner success.
The only thing consistent in the technology industry is change. Every year people proclaim the end of the IT Solution Provider community with some new technology. What I have learned is our community that empowers small businesses to leverage the best new technology. Every new technology seems to just make our jobs more vital to small business, not less…
ChannelE2E: Rewind to the day ConnectWise invested in LabTech. Fast forward to today. Did the 2010 deal meet/exceed your expectations? Why or why not?
Nachtrab: When I was selling Arnie on the possibilities I did proclaim some pretty high expectations, the results absolutely shattered every objective I set out. Adam Slutskin and I formed a really amazing team early on and we really propelled LabTech sales to levels I didn’t expect for years. I am tough on the company because I always do have very high service, product quality, and performance standards. But when I step back, it truly is incredible to see what we have all pulled off.
ChannelE2E: How would you describe the overall health of the MSP ecosystem? Where are MSPs thriving, where do they need to improve, what are their next opportunities?
Nachtrab: As Arnie has said in his keynotes, I feel the world is relying more and more on technology and the users of technology relies on the MSP ecosystem. I think it is VERY strong and getting stronger. Technology companies interested in getting more of their technology to small and medium side business need to learn how to leverage this ecosystem to be successful.
The Holy Grail is and always be to be the trusted advisor empowering small business to be more successful by leveraging the best technology for their business.
My dream at ConnectWise was to be a similar trusted advisor to the MSPs and help add more value by working together to solve problems more effectively than everyone solving them on their own. Not just technical problems, business problems. I also wanted to escort in collaborated change and help our partners drive real meaningful productivity gains to their clients.
ChannelE2E: What do you suspect is next for you? Any early clues or too soon to say?
Nachtrab: My time with the ConnectWise companies allowed me the ability to be instrumental in scaling every aspect of a software company much faster than if I stayed independent with just LabTech. This was invaluable experience and has prepared me for the next step in my leadership journey.
My passion is inspiring game-changing growth. I’m excited to bring that passion and the experience gained working with the ConnectWise team to another growth opportunity. I’m enjoying exploring a wide range of next step opportunities -- from software startups to large organizations to private equity and venture capital firms.
You are right its early and I am exploring, but I see three possibilities at this point:
- Join a 100M revenue or larger software/technology company with a talented executive team that is growing very fast or help one that wants to expand into the IT Service Provider space.
- Start a new company or join a very small startup that has some innovative technology that could be very successful in the IT Solution Provider space
- Start a consulting company to help software companies scale or gain exposure to the IT Service Provider space.
ChannelE2E: You're still an owner in Nemsys — the Ohio MSP. Any chance you'll get involved in that on a day-to-day basis?
Nachtrab: As I figure out what to do next, I will able to work more with the CEO of Nemsys, Blake Underwood, to figure out what exciting things we can do at Nemsys. I really enjoy running new technology ideas by the Nemsys team to see if they think it would be useful to the IT Service Provider community. I won’t likely join full time because Blake is doing a great job with that business. Just like I know Arnie has ConnectWise covered.
ChannelE2E: Fast forward to 2020. What does the MSP industry and the channel look like?
Nachtrab: Wow… let me think. At some point, it seems that there will be a consolidation cycle that emerges in the MSP industry. We have seen some emerge, but there are very few MSPs managing over 25,000 end points. I think we will see a few mega MSPs emerge that really figure out how to scale. I think that some will really start to nail support to larger companies and grow the overall footprint of the community.
I think the jobs of MSPs will shift to be more about business enablement as software and technology gets easier and easier to use. MSPs must become more and more knowledgeable about business instead of just technologists for this to occur.
ChannelE2E: Anything else you'd like to potentially cover?
I’m appreciative of the partner community as a whole for their infectious entrepreneurial spirit and thank those who chose any part of the ConnectWise Business Suite. It is your support and your success that has motivated me through my career so far, and continues to motivate the business.
I love the IT Service Provider community. Words cannot describe how much I appreciate the support of our partners, LabTech and ConnectWise colleagues, and other companies in our space. I have had so much fun working with other companies in the space and our partners that I certainly feel at home here. I have no intention of leaving that home.
ChannelE2E: We'll keep readers posted if/when Nachtrab makes his next move. And we'll be at ConnectWise's Automation Nation conference in June for continued updates on the LabTech front as well.