MSP Road Trip: New York, New York
April 15, 2016
Find out about everyday life for MSPs across the nation
By Jessica Meek
Welcome to MSP Road Trip!
In the run up to the Channelnomics MSP conference on 13 April in New York City, we wanted to give you a snapshot of what life is like for MSPs across the country.
This week we’re in New York, New York with Raj Goel, CTO at Brainlink International.
Being an MSP in New York is a very different life to MSPs in other parts of the country, Goel explains, but one common challenge Brainlink has with peers across the U.S. is clients not understanding the role of the MSP, the CTO says.
“When they look online there are too many generic, ‘me-too’ businesses without a differentiator,” he explains. “The biggest thing we have to do when we approach clients is educating them in what makes us unique and different as professionals versus the last 10 guys who pitched them with the same websites, the same promise and the same set of lies.”
And when it comes to the challenges and opportunities of being an MSP in New York City, these are quite particular, Goel explains. On the one hand, it’s “fantastic”, he says, adding “It’s the only place I’ve been an MSP and the only place in the world I want to be an MSP”.
He points out that being Manhattan based means Brainlink specializes in working with wealth management firms, private equity firms, family offices and similar. “In NYC there are hundreds, if not thousands, of them, whereas elsewhere the density isn’t there,” he explains.
“Because we are one of the financial capitals of the world and have been historically, when [banks] Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers folded [during the crisis in 2008], I felt sorry for the friends who worked there, but I quietly celebrated because I knew most of the people who worked there who were good were going to branch off and open their own companies. And that’s pretty much what happened – those firms melted and 3000 baby hedge funds took their place and they are the ones we go after, the small, privately held, one to three partners, $100 million to $4 billion in AUM.
“And in terms of New York, those are the micro funds. In other parts of the world, they’d be giants. And it’s nice to live in New York and say we deal with these people.”
On the other hand, like any city, New York brings its challenges for MSPs. And there is one that Goel says is very particular to the Big Apple.
“The biggest challenge I have as an MSP in NYC is I only meet my peers at industry conferences,” Goel says. “I’m jealous of my friends in West Palm Beach or other cities across the country, or in Australia and the UK, who say ‘I know all the MSPs in town’ or ‘I know the top 10 guys’.
“Last time I did the math, there were about 2500 IT firms – MSPs, VARs, distributors – targeting Manhattan and I know about 200 of them, but I only ever see them at industry conferences, I never see them in Manhattan.”
Interestingly, Goel says this is also the thing that makes being an MSP “so awesome”.
“The market is so large and the opportunity is so amazing that we could take another 5000 IT firms and no-one would notice,” he says. “The NYC market is like the Atlantic Ocean. It’s huge. Even the biggest players in our market in NY, no-one’s ever heard of them because of the size of the market.”
But he concedes that it does get lonely.
“The loneliness is a challenge – I talk to friends who work in the top 20 cities in the U.S. outside of New York and they say ‘Yes I’m friends with my top five peers’, and I’m like ‘Really?!’. I can’t even get these guys to come out for free dinner and drinks on me.”
And he doesn’t see this changing any time soon. Unlike other cities, Goel says MSPs in New York will not be forming a “unified whole”.
“I don’t see the ‘MSP Union of NY’ becoming a reality,” he says. “What I see happening in other states and other cities where MSPs help each other out or work on clients together, I haven’t seen that happening in New York, nor have I heard about it in our industry, nor do I see it happening in other industries.”
To combat the loneliness of being an MSP in New York, Goel travels out of town to various industry events as this is the only time he gets to see his peers, he says.
“Getting my New York and Jersey-based peers out for drinks never happens. There are a couple of guys I see every quarter at a conference – we’ll travel 1000 or 2000 miles away, but to travel five miles or even meet half way… We still haven’t had drinks.”
Be sure to join us next week when we’ll be learning what life is like for an MSP in Dallas, Texas!