When the CEO of the company you work for starts a meeting with “Our Investors have pulled our funding and your paychecks are going to bounce tomorrow,” you immediately start asking yourself “what’s next?” For Day, Philip, Lyf, and Nathan, the answer was Mytech Partners, Inc., created within 10 days of that infamous call on the last Thursday of September 2000. From the beginning, Mytech has had a laser focus on delivering IT services to small businesses and being involved members of our local communities. The founding principles of Mytech are:
- Control your own destiny – create a fiscally stable organization without investors that can pull the plug at any time
- Be fair – to employees, to customers, and to the company
- Give back – support the local community that supports the company
- Be inclusive – make all employees feel like they are important
The initial strength of Mytech came from the diverse backgrounds of the owners: Day came from radio and advertising; Philip from tinkering with technology since age 12; Lyf from corporate IT; and Nathan from the restaurant industry. The first couple years were spent trading IT services for office space, and attracting enough customers to hire their first engineer in 2003. In that same year, Mytech moved into their first permanent office space in downtown Minneapolis’ Warehouse District; with more space than necessary (an intentional common theme in all Mytech offices) there was room, and pressure, to continue growing.
From the beginning, all four owners took on a tactical job and made decisions together. However, a SWOT facilitated by Heartland Technology Groups (HTG) in 2007 identified that “it doesn’t take four people to run a company the size of Mytech” (about 20 employees at the time), prompting the owners to name Lyf the President and CEO. This decision jump-started the next wave of growth. Now, as members of HTG peer groups, we continue to learn about how to run a successful business, discuss the latest developments in technology, and form relationships with industry peers and vendors.
2010 was a pivotal year for deciding the future of Mytech. We had finally maxed-out our expansion opportunities in our downtown office, and moved into a space double the size in the suburbs, once again adding the pressure to grow and fill the space. Day, Philip, Lyf, and Nathan also decided to take the opportunity in the 10th Anniversary year to go on a retreat to Breckenridge, CO to reflect, look forward, and plan.
Four important things came out of this retreat:
- The four owners, nearly strangers when they started Mytech, still wanted to be a part of the successful business that they all built together.
- The four owners defined Mytech’s Mission and Vision.
- The four owners identified company culture as something that should be nurtured. All employees were (and still are) given a copy of Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh to kick-start how we think about culture in the workplace. The Culture Committee was created out of this initiative and tasked with defining our Values. These 12 ideas define who we are and what we aspire to be.
- The four owners developed the initial idea for Mytech’s 10-year growth plan.
- Mytech’s first phone number was very similar to a local Pizza Hut phone number so we fielded a lot of calls for pizza delivery in the early years.
- After a couple years, the property management at 333 Washington Ave N (the downtown office) informed Mytech that the last three companies that had occupied that same space had all gone out of business – they were pleased that Mytech broke the curse and did not suffer the same fate (so were Day, Philip, Lyf and Nate).
- Day used to live across the street from the downtown Minneapolis office – we once considered installing a zip line between the two buildings to make Day’s commute easier.
- The Vision statement in 2010 was defined as: To Provide the best IT Solutions in North America. It was not until 2013 when the Vision statement was revised: To Provide the best IT Experience in North America.
- Two of our customers joined us at Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas for their Culture Experience.
- Mytech ownership challenged the culture committee to reduce the number of values from 12 to 5 – 7, however the culture committee (and all the Mytech staff at the time) held firm that these are the values they believe define who Mytech is and should be. In 2015, the Culture Committee refined the 12 value statements into the 4 value pillars of Communication, Happiness, Accountability and Improvement (C.H.A.I.).
- All of our office phone numbers begin with a local area code.
- When the Mytech office was in Downtown Minneapolis the building was called “Union Plaza” and the current building that the Denver office is in is called “Union Plaza.”
The 10 Year Plan
While the ownership retreat took place in 2011, it took a couple years to fully identify the specific growth goals and how to attain them. Several internal and industry factors led to the decision to grow through acquisitions that will help all companies involved stay relevant in the industry as it matures. Some of these factors include:
- Many IT company owners are starting to think about their exit strategies (some started their companies over 30 years ago!)
- Small IT companies will struggle to compete. With the increasing complexity of technology and maturity of SMB technology use, IT companies will need to have staff with a significant range of expertise.
- With a very low unemployment rate in the industry, good talent can be difficult to find. Through acquisitions, we can add this talent to our team and diversify our range of expertise.
- There is a significant hurdle most of our peers encounter in their growth goals. Mytech was able to overcome our own obstacle with the help of our peers and business coaches. We want to pay it forward and help others overcome their growth challenge.
- We want to be able to impact communities across the United States. Having a local staff who have strong relationships with our customers and the community at large.
Acquisitions to date have been in St. Paul, MN, Owatonna, MN, and Denver, CO. We choose companies for their alignment to our goals and values. Each of our first three acquisitions has also been chosen for its geographical proximity to headquarters. We wanted to start close to home to get experience, then strategically moved further away to stretch our comfort zone. Each acquisition has taught us an important lesson on what to do better next time, or how to run a better organization.
We are just at the beginning of our journey and are excited about where our 10 year plan will take us. We look forward to providing the Best IT Experience for years to come!