Quantum Networks (quantum-co.com) is a truly remarkable success story for the amazing growth that a young entrepreneurial team was able to harness in the highly competitive e-commerce space. In just 3 years, Quantum Networks went from selling 20 routers to conducting $ 25 M in annual online sales. Behind this meteoric rise is an extremely simple and effective concept for expert assisted sales of selective electronic products online. Add to the picture that 21-year-old Jonathan Goldman leads Quantum Networks with the business savvy of a seasoned executive.
Jonathan Goldman: I have always had an eye for detail and a passion for making a deal. During the summer of 11th grade, I was connected with a friend who was working on deploying and installing long-range Wifi and 4G towers in third world countries. “In the meantime,” he said, “I have these twenty off-brand routers. Let’s sell them.” He pulled random routers that had been lying around and put them on top of the cubicle. That summer, I opened an Ebay account, and as our router sales grew, so did our presence in the eCommerce arena. In the process, we learned the science of selling.
Ascent Advisor: As you are vertically integrating and horizontally expanding across markets, how do you retain your core expertise?
Jonathan Goldman: We see exceptional opportunities and we are eager to explore them, but most importantly, we never lose sight of what our customers want most – exceptional understanding of the products and impeccable customer service. Our staff routinely partakes in product trainings and team meetings that emphasize the importance of connecting with the customers and providing them with the best service possible. This has caused our online sales presence to grow tremendously. We sell in the U.S., to Canada, and to the government. We manufacture and distribute our own products and have launched a media and marketing company, which is another channel used in promoting and marketing our products.
Ascent Advisor: Sustaining that pace of growth requires systems and processes in place. What type of project management discipline, systems, or processes do you use to manage growth?
Jonathan Goldman: Managing growth is a serious issue. At Quantum, we emphasize communication and transparency. Previously, each employee had his or her own office. We found that there was a lot of miscommunication, which ultimately hindered our growth. In our new offices, we have an open loft environment where, partners and staff alike, share two open bullpens. We have seen tremendous improvement in communication.
Additionally, we have recruited talent that brings organization to our growing team. We have implemented monthly team meetings, structure within our departments and employee goals to further transparency and communication.
Ascent Advisor: How do you embed in the new employees the core competencies so they can replicate your success?
Jonathan Goldman: Over time, we have learned the importance of hiring talent. One of our initial mistakes was hiring inexpensive and available individuals. We were reinvesting all of our profits into inventory and products, but not into talent.
Since then, we are more selective in our search for employees. We have learned that, as a company, you are only as strong as your talent. Now, when hiring for a single position, we may review hundreds of resumes before choosing an individual who subscribes to our work ethic and company culture and who can help us head in the right direction. For example, we have an in-house counsel who reviews all of our vendor contracts, when most companies our size barely read the agreements before signing them. The key, it seems, is to find employees smarter and better than us; people that we can learn from – and obviously, to not have an ego about what we know, or think we know.
Ascent Advisor: In a business as competitive as e-commerce, where products tend to sell mainly on price, what are your key differentiators?
Jonathan Goldman: Quantum sells niche technology products. We look for products that cannot be found in a retail store like BestBuy, for example. Additionally, hereas most e-commerce sites sell product volume based on price, we focus on delivering value to the customer by bringing a different level of expertise into the sales process. Selling these specialized products requires a lot of attentive customer care, which we know how to do.
On a most basic level, for example, we have a one-ring policy on all of our incoming calls. When a customer calls any of our competitors, it may take several rings before a representative answers the phone. In many cases, the customer will be put on hold, be put through voicemail, or get transferred to a different department. It is a frustrating experience for customers. At Quantum, we answer every call on the first ring. It is not unheard of that I take a sales calls if others are busy. In an instant-gratification society, customers want human interaction, and we understand that need.
Additionally, experience has taught us to jump at well-thought through but risky ideas. For example, we were one of the first to beta test a market. Taking too long to grab an opportunity can lead to “paralysis by analysis.” Our secret sauce is that when we have a new and innovative idea, we jump right in with a high level of energy. We adapt to issues faster than others, and this has brought both success and failures at times – although I would like to think of it as success and lessons, instead of failures.
Jonathan Goldman: Quantum has three partners, and I am the youngest one. Since we started, we have built a strong level of trust and respect. Each partner has a unique skill and talent. One is very detail oriented, the other focuses on the big picture. I am more focused on sales and purchasing, while the others are involved in operations and management. We have been able to separate responsibilities and trust each other. As we grow, we hope to maintain and build on that trust by applying the same model that we apply to our relationship with customers – transparency and communication.
Ascent Advisor: As you look into the near future, what do you see as your next challenges?
Jonathan Goldman: The biggest challenge that we see now is being able to scale effectively. Because we are growing so quickly, we are learning that methods that may have been acceptable when we were a small company, may not work at the next level. We need to find ways to change and adapt. Last year, an employee may have had four different roles. Now, that is not possible any more. We also consistently need to revise the way we monitor our metrics so that we stay focused on the right priorities. The business is constantly evolving and growing and we need to grow with it. Fortunately, these are normal growing pains. Since we innately know how to buy and sell products that we are passionate about, many of these challenges are more manageable as we grow.
Ascent Advisor: What is the future of Quantum Networks?
Jonathan Goldman: Our core focus is to get to $ 100 M in three to four years. Given our current growth rate, it is a reasonable expectation. For us, it is about differentiating versus competing. We are up against many competitors who have been doing this for 20 to 30 years. We are a young, energetic, and hungry bunch. We believe in making changes and adapting to the needs of the market and the customer. By focusing our attention on niche tech products combined with our innovative customer service model, we look forward to continuing to set ourselves apart from the pioneers in the retail electronics industry for many years to come.