We love hearing from MSPs from around the world, finding out the secret sauce of what makes them successful, and the tips and tricks that they have to share with the rest of the Atera community. Today, we have Avi Vaseman, owner of Sytex.ca in the hot seat! Sytex is a Winnipeg-based MSP that was founded back in 2016.
Avi, hey! Tell us everything we need to know about Sytex! How did you get started?
I’ve been in the IT industry for a long time. My first computer was back in 1992 – running on Windows 3.1, so that should tell you how long! Career-wise, I started out learning coding and programming, looking to become a developer, but eventually, I ended up in IT as a Sysadmin. Then, about 5 years ago, I was working in IT for an accounting firm, and the law firm across the hall asked me to step in and do some consulting. I fixed a problem that they were having in 2 days, that their existing IT guys had taken 2 months over. They became my first client! Before long, I’d started my own company. It wasn’t ever my plan. Honestly, I thought I’d work for someone else the rest of my career, but this happened almost by accident, and I love it.
That’s awesome! And do you have a specific niche? How do you find your clients?
Most of our clients are accountants and law firms, although we also have manufacturing companies who work in cooling and heating, and pharma as well. The truth is, if any industry comes along and needs help, we’re open to that.
Originally, I tried some cold calling, but I didn’t have much luck with it. I would even speak to prospects and say “I can see a vulnerability in your system from the outside” and they would just say that everything was fine, and their IT teams had it handled. Sometimes months later, I could still see the problems and the vulnerabilities and they still didn’t want to speak to me. Instead, I took a step back and said let’s go slower, I started building up referrals, using word of mouth, creating a presence online. I get a lot of organic leads from Google too. Last week I received three phone calls. They’re usually people who have a specific one-time fix that they need, but that’s a good start to get my foot in the door.
Can you tell us a bit about your pricing model?
At the start, I was trying to be cheap. I found that I was giving it my all, putting everything into my work, but no one appreciated it. And I also found that I don’t want to be the same as every other MSP in Winnipeg. I differentiate myself by providing a dedicated service. When you work with Sytex you know that you’re getting a single person who knows your business, because we make sure each customer gets a dedicated technician. When you call up, you’re speaking to someone that knows your business, knows your environment, they don’t have to learn everything from scratch. I realized quickly that this is a premium product. So, I doubled my prices! I don’t want quantity, I want quality. And actually, that’s what the customer wants too. They want dedicated support and that’s what we provide.
So, what brought you to Atera?
I tried a few different RMM solutions and nothing was a great fit. Then someone recommended Atera, and I thought – why not give it a try? I found it much more user-friendly than other RMM solutions I had tried. It works for me perfectly, I can communicate easily, see everything I need to know at a glance. I use it daily, and it’s my favorite!
That’s what we love to hear! Have you got any advice for your fellow Aterans on managing clients?
You have to remember that you’re the one providing the service. When a ticket is closed, that’s not the end of your job. Say, “Can I help you with anything else?” “Is there anything else that you need?” It could be another issue, or it could be hardware, batteries, a mouse, cables – anything! People rely on you and they want you to help them. If you haven’t heard from a client in a while, schedule a meeting with the office manager and check-in. Visit on-site and take donuts! Ask them what they need and make sure to follow up.
Do you have any tips for MSPs who are just starting out?
I have two! Firstly, I would advise everyone who can to learn a bit of programming language, C or C++. It’s so good to know! It doesn’t matter which language, they’re all based on similar stuff, but when you try to understand things, knowing a programming language really helps. In general, you always want to be learning, whether it’s programming, or at the moment cybersecurity is a big one. Courses are great, but it’s an experience that will make all the difference.
Secondly, if you’re sure you want to be an MSP, do it the best you can. Don’t do it because of money, do it because you have a passion for it. At Sytex, we really want to help clients to achieve their goals. Most of my clients came to me after a bad experience with their previous MSP or IT company. Bad service, bad communication, lack of support, slow ticket resolution, cyberattacks… you name it. If you decide to open an MSP, you’re taking on a lot of responsibility. It’s not the technician who’s taking on that responsibility, it’s you. The technician might be working 8-5, but you’re on 24/7 and that’s a whole different animal, so give it you’re all.
Love learning from our MSPs? Us too! Check out our recent MSP Minds Live webinar, A Cybersecurity Deep-dive for You and Your MSP Clients!