Mastering the Science of Selling at Quantum Networks

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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.

Ascent Advisor: Jonathan, at an age when most young people are still trying to goldmandecide what to do for a job, what led you to become an entrepreneur of a business with record fast growth?

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.

Ascent Advisor: As Quantum Networks continues to grow rapidly, how are you building a management team that is able to scale?Quantum

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.

Avalaunch Media: Why Great Content Rules the Internet

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Avalaunch Media (www.AvalaunchMedia.com), based in Lehi, UT, offers content marketing, which is supported by several services: consulting, infographic design, linkbait articles, pay-per-click management, reputation management, search engine optimization, and social media promotion. COO Jason Coulam (@Jason_Coulam) took some time to chat with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).

Jason Coulam

Jason Coulam – Avalaunch Partner & COO

Ascent Advisor – Preston Pond:  You joined Avalaunch Media in fall of 2012 as a partner and COO.  What attracted you to this company?

Jason Coulam: The people and the mission.  I’ve known the founders, Andy Melchior, Dave Mink and Matt Siltala for a long time. We worked together at a previous company (Prosper) and I watched them transition out to go build Avalaunch Media (formerly known as Dream Systems Media).  I remained close friends with them over the years and would meet together, go to lunch and see their families and talk about how the business was going.  They were really excited about everything they had going on.

In early 2012, they strategically pivoted the business and decided to grow the company into more than just a high-end boutique SEO agency; they wanted to become a larger all-encompassing digital marketing agency – specializing in viral content.  It was about that time that we met for breakfast and they approached me about working together.  Knowing my previous experience, they asked if I would come help the company grow and I felt like the timing was right.  Continue reading

REES Capital: What Angel Investors are REALLY Looking For

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REES Capital (www.REESCapital.com), based in South Jordan, UT, s an angel investment and mentor capital firm that works in close collaboration with entrepreneurs and their investors and board members to drive company growth and maximize equity value through strategic direction and influence.  Managing Partner Amy Rees Anderson (@AmyReesAnderson) took some time to chat with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).

Ascent Advisor – Paul Savage: REES Capital officially opened its doors on January 4th at your new headquarters.  What is your vision for what REES can become?

Amy Rees Anderson Capital

REES Capital Managing Director – Amy Rees Anderson

Amy Rees Anderson:  We started REES Capital after we sold MediConnect Global. We — myself and several of the executives who joined me — really felt we wanted to take everything we had learned and help other people do what we did. Our vision is to mentor entrepreneurs and find some key companies that we want to invest in as angel investors and that we can help guide to a successful outcome.

Ascent Advisor:  You sold your last company, MediConnect Global, for $377 million one year ago.  What did you learn from selling a company you built?

Amy Rees Anderson:  It’s a lot of work to sell a company.  The process is probably more difficult than you expect because it is so intense going through due diligence, documentation, negotiating the deal, and all of that.  It gets bad before it gets good.  We were very thoughtful about the choice we made – it was a tough one. The company was doing incredibly well, so there was always that battle of, “Do I sell?  Do I hang on to it and keep growing it?”  It was a very careful decision on all of our parts to decide this was the right time to do it. Continue reading

Growing Social5: “Unfair Share” of Industry Shift

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Social5 (www.SocialFive.com) helps companies get social, stay social and get noticed.  CEO Rob Wellman took some time to chat with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).

Ascent Advisor – Paul Savage:  When you founded Social5 in 2012, what was your vision for the company?

Rob Wellman Social5 CEO

Social5 Founder and CEO – Rob Wellman

Rob Wellman:  When starting a business you look for industries that have a tailwind–unlike crowded, bloody markets, it’s just easier that way.  Social media is clearly transforming our world: it’s a tsunami changing virtually every industry. We believe social media is a powerful, disruptive movement, shifting the way businesses market and interact with customers.

Our vision really was very simple:  Let’s get our unfair share of this phenomenal industry shift. Continue reading

Ascent Advisor named as one of UVEF’s Top 25 Under 5 in 2013

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UVEF Top 25 Under 5The Utah Valley Entrepreneurial Forum (UVEF) today announced winners of its 2013 “Top 25 Under Five” Award, spotlighting outstanding Utah entrepreneurs and start-up companies. This year is UVEF’s fourteenth Top 25 Under Five competition. UVEF has highlighted more than 300 companies through the history of this competition, including Orange Soda, Omniture, Skullcandy and Xango, among many others.

Ascent Advisor, a management consulting company focused on the fastest growing companies in the country,  was named the #21 company on the list.  Read the full press release here.

Congratulations to the Ascent Advisor team!

 

Mity-Lite CEO John Dudash: Are you Patton or Braveheart?

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Mity-Lite (www.MityLite.com), based in Orem, UT, is is a global manufacturer of market-leading furniture systems.  CEO John Dudash  took some time to chat with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).

Ascent Advisor – Paul Savage:  When you took over as CEO of Mity-Lite in 2011, what was your vision for the company?

Mity-Lite CEO John Dudash

Mity-Lite CEO – John Dudash

John Dudash:  Sustainable but aggressive growth.  Mity-Lite (@MityLiteInc) was a very successful company and relatively profitable, but it has experienced some challenges with the economic downturn as everybody did.  It was well positioned to take advantage of a rebound situation – we just had to create a strategy and execute it.  When I came in, my principal responsibility was to effectively achieve that.

Ascent Advisor: What did you do in terms of creating a strategy and then getting employees to buy into it?

John Dudash:  First and foremost was creating trust.  Being a new CEO, especially in a new cultural environment, if you are not trusted on some superficial level at the very beginning, the employees are not going to accept the opportunity to trust you on a deeper level. Continue reading

PcCareSupport: Supporting Technology in Every Home

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PcCareSupport (www.PcCareSupport.com), based in Provo, UT, is set on supporting technology in the homes and businesses across the world. Founder and CEO Ryan Westwood (@RyanWestwood2) took some time to chat with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).

Ascent Advisor – Preston Pond:  When you founded PcCareSupport in 2010, what was your vision for the company?

CEO Ryan Westwood

PcCareSupport CEO & Founder – Ryan Westwood

Ryan Westwood:  I had worked for DirectPointe, which was a managed service provider, and we provided IT support to the mid-and large-sized business and I saw alternatives like Geek Squad handling consumers, but I didn’t feel like there was a really good solution for the under-20 employee business. They had the biggest need and there was a lack of support for that area so we came in and focused on facilitating technical support for the 0-20 employee company.  I felt like there was a need in the market there that wasn’t being served.

Ascent Advisor: I am guessing that need hasn’t gone away.

Ryan Westwood:   It has grown and we have expanded into other markets, and we’ve evolved and pivoted as we’ve gone on, but it started there. Continue reading

Winsper: Turning Marketing into a Business

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Winsper (www.winsper.com), based in Boston, MA.  is redefining the discipline of marketing and the role of CMOs on the global scale. President Jeff Winsper (@jeffwinsper) took some time to chat with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).

Ascent Advisor – Bruce Jackson: What led you to found Winsper (@winsperthinks) in 2002?

President and Founder Jeff Winsper

Winsper President – Jeff Winsper

Jeff Winsper: Just to give you some context, I graduated from Providence College, which is a small college in Rhode Island, and I got a BA in History. I joined a small firm, a group that claimed to be the first B2B technology agency in the country established in 1969. I had no idea about the industry, and I really had no idea about B2B and technology, but I really fell in love with technology and everything about it.

I had a chance to take ownership in that company but I elected not to, and I went to cofound a firm/agency. A couple other partners and I did some homework and we decided to focus on B2B in tech because we felt it was a very underserved industry, and we had a business model that we felt would give us a competitive advantage against our counterparts. We grew it very quickly, and part of that growth was due to expansion throughout the Americas and London. So we had service centers to take care of the tech centers across the country. We built it and then we sold it to Leo Burnett. After you sell your business, it’s not really your business anymore, so I hung around for 4 years, then I went over to Mullen to build out a B2B practice, help organize it, but that was a really short stint.

In the back of my mind, I was thinking I could start up another firm. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, and I didn’t want to be an agency per se, so I did a lot of homework to discover some of the gaps. Fundamentally, in almost every agency, they focus on industries, not on audiences. It puzzled me to think that we are hired as an outside consultant, to determine how to position clients’ brands/products /services, where people want to buy from people, and most of the agencies are focused on sectors, like healthcare, or technology, etc. Continue reading

Cantaloupe Systems: Time to Stock up on Peanut M&Ms

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Cantaloupe Systems (www.cantaloupesys.com), based in San Fransisco, CA.  Cantaloupe Systems (@CantaloupeSys) is the pioneer and market leader in Cloud-based technologies for the $55 billion global vending industry and four-time Inc. 5000 honoree. Co-Founder and CEO Mandeep Arora, whose favorite vending machine snack food is Peanut M&Ms, took some time to chat with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).

Ascent Advisor – Paul Savage:  You stocked your first vending machine at age 13: what is it that draws you to this industry?

Mandeep Arora - CEO and Co-Founder at Cantaloupe Systesm

Cantaloupe Systems Co-Founder and CEO – Mandeep Arora

Mandeep Arora:  There are two things.  Entrepreneurs see a void and they want to fill it.  My co-founder and I, and most of our team, are problem solvers.  It’s a very real problem we are solving: family businesses don’t know what is happening at these vending machines and they are being inefficient, so it’s great to help them.

Second, there is something about this specific industry that people enter it and they don’t leave.  I’m not sure what it is!

Ascent Advisor:  When you started Cantaloupe Systems in 2002, did you see it where it is now?  How is it different than you expected?

Mandeep:  We were really fortunate that we started it while we were in college.  At first it was a project, so we didn’t have a lot of time pressure.  We spent months learning about the industry and asking people why they used technology, why they don’t, why companies have tried to do this and failed, and why weren’t they succeeding.  That helped us draft a really good business plan.  To a large extent, we are still executing that plan today. If I am ever to start another company, I would want to do the same thing: take the time to really understand because it is so valuable. Continue reading

Verisk Health: Operational Intelligence

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Verisk Health(www.veriskhealth.com), formerly MediConnect, is based in South Jordan, UT.  Verisk Health (@veriskhealth) is the world leader in health information exchange and is a 6-time Inc. 5000 honoree. COO Eric Quigley took some time to chat with Ascent Advisor (@AscentAdvisor).

 

Eric Quigley MediConnect

Verisk Health – COO Eric Quigley

Ascent Advisor – Paul Savage:  MediConnect was purchased by Verisk Analytics almost a year ago. What has changed since the purchase and what has stayed the same?

Eric Quigley: Whenever you combine any two companies there are going to be changes, some good and some bad.  Most of the time the bad changes aren’t intentional, it’s just that one company does things one way and the other company does things another way. There is always more red tape with a larger company; which is understood; they are a publicly traded company. They have to follow certain compliance issues when it comes to publicly traded financials that we didn’t have before, so it’s been an interesting shift to see.

One of the benefits of being purchased by a company like Verisk is that they are much larger entity than MediConnect was, which gives us the ability to go after larger opportunities that we weren’t previously in the market for as they required a larger suite of services. At the same time, we are proud that we became a big company that still is able to run like a smaller company with attention to people and to culture.  We’ve been given some autonomy to keep our culture and methods of doing things. Continue reading