Scott Ryan, CEO at Montra.
Scott has more than 20 years of experience in successfully building and selling companies that develop products in the IT infrastructure and media technology industries.
His exits include Concurrent Computer, Senoia Systems, Asankya Networks, and Elastic Networks. Additionally, Scott’s leadership experience includes running successful teams at storage leader, EMC; networking leader, Nortel Networks; and consulting innovator, North Highland. Scott has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Theatre in addition to a Masters of Business Administration in Marketing, both from Vanderbilt Unversity.
Follow Montra on LinkedIn and Twitter.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Inc. 5000
- Remote IT Trends
- IT Logistics
- Why workforce identity?
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio, brought to you by on pay. Built in Atlanta, on pay is the top rated payroll and HR software anywhere. Get one month free at onpay.com. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:32] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor on pay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. Today on the Atlanta Business Radio, we have Scott Ryan with Montra. Welcome, Scott.
Scott Ryan: [00:00:48] Thanks, Lee. Glad to be here.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:50] Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us a little bit about Mantra. How you serving folks?
Scott Ryan: [00:00:55] It’s a montra is sort of a next generation or re-imagining of the way people do managed it. So we do everything with a remote first mindset. So we focus on remote I.T. for remote offices, remote people and remote devices.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:11] So what was the genesis of the idea? How did this come about?
Scott Ryan: [00:01:15] So my initial interest in managed services came back when I had sold a company to EMC, the storage guys that are now part of Dell. We had a strategic initiative to look at the managed services market and how it was affecting our business. This is going back a number of years and that got my initial interest in the space. And then I met up with some people that I had worked with previously years ago. My business partner, Matthew Singley in particular, and sort of talking about the space and what could be done to innovate in the space. And that really became the genesis of it. So about three years ago, we acquired another small MSSP in Atlanta called Midtown Technology Partners, and we use that as the base to really get the company started with the idea that we believed that software was really at the key to provide better leverage to the kinds of services that people are used to delivering. You know, kind of on site and in person we thought could be done much better in a much more scalable way through software.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:18] So how many iterations did it take for you to get a service that you were happy with, that you knew that, Hey, we got something here and we can scale this?
Scott Ryan: [00:02:27] Well, that’s a good question. From a software standpoint, you know, we follow a continuous development process. And so with biweekly sprints, we’re constantly creating new features and new capabilities in the software. It’s really been to answer the question maybe a little bit differently. When we got started, what I kept saying to the team was, you know, we’re really still a managed IT services company with some software that backs us up with the services that we deliver. But at some point we were going to be able to sort of turn the script around and really be a SAS company that has a managed I.T service team that can back up what we’re delivering through software. And it’s really been sort of mid-year of this year that I feel like we’ve really built enough capability into the software that we could sort of turn the company into a software company more than a service company.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:21] Is that kind of when you cross that threshold, is that what you think brought you into the INC 5000?
Scott Ryan: [00:03:29] Well, the INC 5000 recognizes growth over a three year period, sort of looking backwards over three years. So we just got this for the growth that we’ve seen over the past three years. So I would say that is much of a recognition of our capability to just generate business. And there’s a couple of things, a little bit of it I guess would be software, but first and foremost is just the ability to go take the current base of customers that we had, go deliver services we believe in in a better way, more effective way to grow that base of business with new customers. And then we landed one customer in particular, which I think we have announced is Picks a lot, which is a automated camera technology. They’re really the leader in the space for sports, automated camera technology. And with them together, they sort of led us into an area of our software that has really created a lot of, we believe, uniqueness and innovation in what we do. And in effect, what we are is doing what we call device logistics. It’s sort of third party logistics for hardware devices. And that really came to fruition a couple of years ago. And we just sort of grown that base of software that’s really on the device logistics side of our business. And then last year, early part of last year, we went through a customer discovery process with our current customers to get a better idea of, hey, we had some of the basic dashboard boarding data integration through APIs, trouble ticketing tied into the API, into the UI and through APIs. We had all that built, but we were really looking for where are the biggest pain points that our customers were seeing or prospective customers in the mid-market that we weren’t doing business with today. What were the big issues? And it became really obvious we. Quickly that there was one issue that jumped up above everything else. And it wasn’t cybersecurity and it wasn’t cloud management. And it wasn’t, you know, I guess the typical things that I guess everyone talks about, right.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:42] It wasn’t the usual suspects.
Scott Ryan: [00:05:44] No, not at all. And we had this sort of we tried to create a scientific process of just asking people without presenting any options to them and then turning around and presenting options to them. And what it turned out is employee onboarding. And onboarding specifically for what’s called onboarding. And onboarding was the number one concern everybody was wrestling with. It was an issue that everyone had had prior to COVID. But COVID really exacerbated this problem, which is the fact that the amount of automation and the amount of complexity that goes into onboarding an employee or onboarding them from an I.T. function was really, I guess, the weaknesses in those processes. And most companies were really getting exposed when employees were not coming into the office, when they were being hired remotely, work remotely their whole time they were with a company and then they were onboarded remotely and may not have ever stepped foot in an office of the companies. So how you do that effectively cost effectively and most importantly in a cyber secure and compliant manner, was obviously an area that a lot of our customers and prospects were wrestling with. So we built a whole module in our software. We now call X and say X is the device module, X is the employee module, and they’re really the two modules are focused on the employee logistics around it and the device logistics around it.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:14] Now, when a company gets that right, is is it helping maybe retain the employees? Is it helping, you know, communicating the culture? Is it helping in those areas as well? Or is it just kind of an efficient way of getting people into the start working fast?
Scott Ryan: [00:07:34] I think the efficiency and sort of ROI is really the primary driver, I think, with most clients that are looking at this. I think the other two drivers are cyber compliance. So especially when you offered an employee if your company is in the health care space, so it’s affected by HIPAA or if you’re in the financial services space and affected by FINRA or other regulations, you have to show that your employees only have access to the data that they should have access to and that there is a way to log when they leave. That you really did remove their rights to use the devices that were the company devices, and you remove their credentials or rights to be able to access all the applications. And that sounds really simple, but the the average company now has three times more devices than they do people. The average company that’s in the mid-market has over 100 SAS applications. So with each one a different user ID and log in and we haven’t run into the company yet where a single sign on system like Microsoft so or Okta or one of those can cover all 100 applications, it typically will cover 20 to 30 of them. The other ones still have to be you know, the accounts have to be provisioned independently. So there’s a security component that is a really big concern for all companies across the board. And then there is this, as you sort of imply here, there is this sort of reinforcement of of a corporate culture or, you know, a corporate desire to take care of their own employees in a way that they feel like they are wrapped in and excuse me, a part of the company, even though that they may be remote. And that has definitely with some of our consulting firms and tech firms, that has been a big concern for them, is that they can deliver on their promise to their new employees and ongoing employees, that they will be sort of cared for as part of the family during their employment process.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:35] Now, you mentioned not only do you have kind of this influx of remote workers and now you have all their devices and and now kind of multiple platforms that you have to deal with. And is your solution? It sounds like it’s kind of agnostic. It doesn’t really matter or does it matter when they have that much complexity amongst people and devices?
Scott Ryan: [00:10:00] Well, I would say the more complexity there is, the more value add our software provides to us to simplifying the workflow. So we design into our software basic workflows of from the start of say on an onboarding, it starts with an h.R is system integration so that when a new employee is put into say, hey, vlocity or, or paycom or one of those systems, we have a webhook that would see that new employee and immediately gets pulled into our system and the IT department, either internal i.t or employees of the mantra can then pick up the necessary tasks that need to be done for that particular type of employee. So in the task and workflow can be different based upon whether it’s a sales and marketing or engineering or management employee and go through the whole process. Similarly, for one person, two devices that are working out in the field, out of the edge, independently of people, we can work the entire logistics of warehousing those devices if they want us to warehousing inventory them, dynamically showing the inventory, including latest software version so that we can update software if it’s been sitting in the warehouse too long and then manage them managing all the way through the forward logistics of fulfillment and pushing those devices out into the field and then the reverse logistics of getting those devices back if they can’t be repaired in the field and then we can repair them in our facility as well.
Scott Ryan: [00:11:32] So certainly from our standpoint, the more of those overall complex functions that a customer has, the more value we can provide for them overall. And so we’re typically looking at mid-market sized companies. So companies that would have 100 employees at a minimum or more. Oftentimes, most of our companies are in high growth mode. So we like working with innovative companies, growing companies, companies that have sort of unique problems about edge delivery, either of devices or their people need to work out of the edge of the network, whether it’s in retail or whether it’s sales or other roles or people are naturally not sitting in an office someplace. Those kinds of customers, we can add a tremendous amount of value for those customers now.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:28] So when they’re in the high growth, when they’re in high growth mode, are they seeing kind of the problems that, you know, they’re about to see like that or they do they are they self aware to know that, hey, you know, we are growing fast with these things are going to be multiplying really quickly. We’re going to need a more robust solution than what we have now. Are they open to having those kind of conversations with you at that point there that they can kind of see the future?
Scott Ryan: [00:12:54] I wish they all did. No, I think we certainly have most like most companies that are out there, I think especially companies that are executing really well and then, you know, going through a lot of growth, they’re oftentimes just dealing with the things that are kind of 30, 60, 90 in front of them. And so oftentimes we are coming in, you know, trying to solve a problem that already exists as opposed to understanding the problems on the horizon and could be a large way of hitting them soon. I think with our best customers, what they are seeing is they’re seeing the beginnings of the problem. It hasn’t it’s bubbled up to maybe a top ten or maybe top five problem, but not because it’s the wheels are falling off the bus and their operation, but because they’re, you know, they’re visionary enough to be able to see that, hey, this is about to become a really big problem because we have more employees coming on board or about to do a rollout to 1000 locations of our devices. And we really don’t have our processes in place, and that’s exactly when we start to get engaged with customers.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:03] So is that that’s when you would like to get engaged a little sooner, though, right? In a perfect world.
Scott Ryan: [00:14:09] In a perfect world, we would love to get involved sooner. And I think from our standpoint, as we grow, part of our sales responsibility is going to be being able to communicate to prospective customers why they need to be concerned about these issues even before they think they may see them. What we’re really trying to help customers do is take some capabilities that have been available in software and consulting services to the Fortune 500 under multimillion dollar projects and multimillion dollar implementations, and sort of standardizing the processes a bit and saying, well, look, it’s going to be semi customized for your environment, but it’s going to be much more cost effective for you to implement. So you’re better off going ahead and implementing this now rather than trying to wait until. You have a multimillion dollar implementation that needs to be done when you’re a couple of billion dollar company. We’re really looking for the companies that are growing and seeing these issues coming in front of them.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:14] Right. Because if they see it, it’s like you said earlier, when they see it, when there’s, you know, 50 or 100 and then they’re going to get to 1000, it’s only going to get worse. So you better fix it now. It’s like pay me now or pay me later.
Scott Ryan: [00:15:26] Right. And we certainly have had implementations where there’s effectively extra money, rush fees and things that are being paid to actually get the implementation done more quickly. But I will say, you know, maybe it’s to our detriment, but our ability to integrate quickly with systems of record that most of our customers have in their operation allows us to onboard customer typically in 30 to 90 days, depending on the complexity of of what we’re getting onboarded with. And they can start seeing the value in the ROI within that one quarter. We aren’t talking about even in the worst scenarios that we’ve seen so far, we’re not talking about year long integrations. I will say, though, what we often see with customers today is they’ll get started with us with one particular thing that we can do, like, Hey, I really need help. I’m adding lots of new people and I need help with onboarding those people. Or we had one large consulting firm who was actually doing a major refresh on their laptops and they just needed everything all forwarded and actually securely erased because their clients didn’t want that data. They wanted proof, quite frankly, that that data was not going to be knowable or feasible by other future clients. And we’ll often, as I say, get involved in one particular type of project like that. And then and then by executing well on it, by getting used to having the visibility and the awareness kind of up to date information that our software provides for them is something that customers just aren’t used to seeing, especially in the mid-market. They just aren’t used to having that kind of up to the minute inventory information, process information about where an onboarding is or where an onboarding is. And once they sort of get a taste of that, they are so far looking for us to do more for them, to give them more visibility in more areas of their operation.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:33] So that’s typically your first point of entry at this point, like on a project, you’re working on a project because they have something that they need triaged, so they bring you in to kind of solve some urgent issue.
Scott Ryan: [00:17:49] Exactly. The that is almost innately our typical entry points are in one of two ways. Someone has an immediate need that oftentimes comes from feeling a particular pain about maybe having trouble onboarding a lot of employees quickly or maybe turned into a cyber compliance problem where they weren’t able to prove who had access to what and what part of their operation. Or in the more favorable scenarios, we are getting a lot of referrals from our current customers and those customers are coming in. We’ve signed a major television broadcast network, we’ve signed a major baseball league, and those purely came in by recommendations from current customers. And so we were able to be a little bit more planful in the way we are onboarding them as customers.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:43] So what’s next? Are you seeing any kind of trends in the marketplace that you think you can leverage? What what do you what’s next for mantra?
Scott Ryan: [00:18:54] Well, for us, we’re we’re in a growth mode where what’s next for us is to we actually don’t have any salespeople. So the growth that we’ve seen so far has really been through relationships that I’ve had in my business partner have had and then referrals, as I mentioned, from other customers and the inorganic acquisition that we did at the beginning of the company. For us, we’re really standardizing what we’re building out in the software and then building out a team internally to help us sell that. As we look at who we target, it’s really for what’s next. It’s really expanding on what we’re currently doing. So we’re looking for customers that are outside the US that are building hardware and are looking for sort of an engineering heavy logistics partner that can help them with the deployment of their technology in the US and Canada. So we’ve actually brought on one sales person in Europe to help us find other AMEA based companies similar to what we’ve done with picks a lot because pick slots are actually based in Israel. And then what we also look are looking to expand on is the employee side of the logistics and the laptop and employee side of that. And that’s really looking at us based companies that are in the mid-market and that are we would sort of broadly put into the category of information workers. So consultants, legal, tech and media companies where the assets that are sitting in those laptops that those employees are using actually are extremely important or the intellectual property of the company. And because of that, those companies have a lot of worries, concerns, issues associated with the security of that information and the privacy of that information. And so we’re really just looking to expand what we’re currently doing into more customers of that type.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:55] So if somebody wanted to learn more, have a more substantive conversation with you or somebody on the team, what is the website? What’s the best way to get a hold of you?
Scott Ryan: [00:21:02] Yeah. So it’s absolutely it’s a ww w mantra. I o and it’s Monterey. It’s actually, by the way, a word and have lobby that means safe protected place. It’s not necessarily a play on the Sanskrit word, but if you go there and go to one of the contact us buttons, you can absolutely reach us there. And anyone that wants to reach out to me directly, they can reach me at Scott at Monterey Audio as well, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions and serve anyone that’s interested.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:36] Well, Scott, congratulations on all the growth and success. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Scott Ryan: [00:21:42] Actually, thanks for having me on your show.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:45] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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