How Telecom Resellers and MSPs Can Stand Out Against National Brands: It’s All About the Relationships

SkySwitch President and Founder discusses success strategies and the projected growth of white label cloud communications.

In this Vectors 2019 interview, TMC’s Editorial Director, Erik Linask, speaks with Eric Hernaez, President and Founder of SkySwitch, to learn more about the success behind SkySwitch and SkySwitch’s Vectors events. Listen to behind-the-scenes information about how our ecosystem and partner relationships benefit the SkySwitch reseller community — specifically when it comes to local telecom resellers becoming competitive in the UCaaS market.

Eric Hernaez attributes the growth of Vectors to SkySwitch’s strong relationships and to the overall growth of the white label cloud communications industry. 

Full Video Transcript Below:

Erik Linask  0:07  
We’re here in Orlando, Florida at Vectors 2019. That’s SkySwitch’s annual user conference. And joining me this morning is SkySwitch President Eric Hernaez. Welcome, Eric.

 

Eric Hernaez  0:20  
Thanks, Erik.

 

Erik Linask  0:21  
So a lot of exciting things going on. You know, there just seems to be an awful lot of energy. Everybody that I’ve spoken to, some of the SkySwitch team, some of your partners, your resellers – there just seems to be so much excitement and energy. Where does that come from?

 

Eric Hernaez  0:38  
I agree. It’s been a great show so far, very exciting. I think the energy is because people feel like they’re here to learn something and they’ve been successful in their business and they see this as another path to improving their success. 

We started the show off three and a half years ago here in Orlando. We had about 36 people here, and most of those 36 people who were at our first show are here today. And we have well over 300 here today. And so, you know, they see the growth, they see the new partners coming in, they see the excitement of the new partners, and it all just sort of builds on itself.

 

Erik Linask  1:15  
Right. When I spoke with Jayson earlier this week, he’s certainly keen on continuing to grow the event. He mentioned doubling it again for next year. But what’s driving that kind of momentum and growth within your partner community?

 

Eric Hernaez  1:26  
Well, I think really, it’s just the growth of the industry. Our business is helping our channel. We’re a channel-only white label provider of a UCaaS platform, and so our customers are typically MSPs or interconnects who have been selling on premise PBX systems. And we’re really giving them a new business model. 

We’re giving them a way to realize monthly recurring revenue and to sell a great service under their own brand, where they totally own the customer relationship. It’s their name on the website, it’s their name on the bill, you know, and we help them behind the scenes, but it’s their business. And so this is a new opportunity for a lot of them. And I think it’s just exciting to be part of that.

 

Erik Linask  2:14 
What are the kinds of things that you’re looking to provide or offer when it comes to your resellers?

 

Eric Hernaez  2:23  
Well, you know, our business model is to be a channel-only white label platform for telecom service providers. UCaaS, Unified Communication as a Service, is what our partners sell to their end users. And really, SkySwitch is all about just helping them to become successful. So giving the, not only the platform and the technology tools that they need to compete with the big guys out there in the market, but all the other stuff that goes around that. The business processes, the training and just the tips and on how to be successful. 

There’s a lot of stuff that goes into selling telecom services. And many of our customers come from businesses where they might be MSPs who are selling, you know, IT related services or interconnects who are selling traditional PBXs. So they’re somewhat involved in the industry, but not really selling it as a provider. Because our customers, they sell the service under their own name and when the bill goes out, their name is on the bill. So they’re completely responsible for that relationship with their customer. 

So that brings with it some responsibilities that are new. So what we try to do is we try to figure out all of the different things that go into making a successful UCaaS service provider and then you know, wherever there’s gaps or deficiencies or just you know, areas for improvement with our customer base, we help them try to fill it. And going into why this has been successful, I think they appreciate that.

 

Erik Linask  3:56  
What are the kinds of things that SkySwitch offers through, not only your own platform but the community as a whole, that really allows your partners to compete against some of the larger known brands?

 

Eric Hernaez  4:11  
Well for one, it comes down to features. You know, in the UCaaS business, you have the big nationwide players and they have nice platforms, with lots of bells and whistles. So at first, you have to be able to compete at that level. You know, you have to be able to walk into a potential customer’s office and say, “Yeah, you know, we can do all of that.” But then in addition, what makes our partner community especially successful is most of our partners are smaller owner operated MSPs and Interconnects, and it’s usually the business owner that’s out there talking to other business owners. 

Our sweet spot is the SMB market. So that’s 250 seats and under, and usually our partner can walk in there, talk to the business owner and and provide the kind of face-to-face interaction with knowledge of their business that the larger nationwide brands can’t do. For them, they’re built to scale, right. And it’s mostly faceless selling, you know, and they ship equipment. And there’s really no interaction, they don’t know, the receptionist is really used to pressing this button to do this, and that changes. But our partners, are able to get out there and actually speak to the receptionist, and using the tools, we provide them customize a service. So it’s exactly what they want it to be.

 

Erik Linask  5:32  
So, one of the things that we’ve seen this week is a couple of announcements. But just going back over the past several months and 6, 12 months, there are a lot of exciting things that SkySwitch is doing with partners. Like the relationship with one of your big sponsors here Adaptiv Networks around SD-WAN. How does your relationship with companies like that really benefit your resellers?

 

Eric Hernaez  5:59  
So our philosophy is to find the best providers of specific platforms. And then our job is to integrate them and make them work in a way that works for our partners. And so, one of the things we do, is with Adaptiv we found a great SD-WAN solution that kind of speaks to the part of the market that our partners play in. 

We’ve done a lot of integration so that our partners can order and provision the services and manage them, in a way that’s easy to them. And then not actually have to manage invoicing and billing for them at the end of the month. And so that’s what we try and do with every part of our platform. From just the UCaaS seat to our call center application to our video surveillance as a service, or our Business SMS tools. All of it is built in a way that’s very manageable, but also customizable by our partners so that they can really fit the needs of their customers.

 

Erik Linask  7:02  
What do you do as an organization to continue to build your partner base?

 

Eric Hernaez  7:07  
Well, it’s a very dynamic business. I think the trend is that most businesses, they say digital transformation, but the cloud is a big word. And most small medium sized businesses need to compete with the larger versions of themselves, the nationwide brands. So it’s about giving them, our partners and the end customers, the tools that allow them to compete. So as more and more platforms and solutions and services move to the cloud, now they can talk to each other. So our job is to make it easier for them to talk to each other so that you realize the productivity gains that come along with UCaaS service.

 

Erik Linask  7:49  
So there’s still a huge addressable market of SMBs that have not migrated to Voice Over IP or cloud or not. What do you have to say to that community and why should they be looking at the partners and local resellers that you’re working with?

 

Eric Hernaez  8:05  
Absolutely. Well, I think most people, maybe if not explicitly, inherently know that the reason most people are moving to the cloud, is it’s just a better way to do business. You don’t have to worry about buying something and it becoming obsolete. It’s easier in a lot of ways to consume services as a service and pay for what you use. 

I guess why many small businesses fail to take advantage of that is because they don’t have a path. They don’t really know, “how do I get there”, right? And technology is confusing. There’s so many players out there and it’s very difficult to find a way to stitch these systems together.

So what I say to those types of companies is, “there are local partners out there that you can find that will help you do that”. And SkySwitch partners are of course a great resource, but just in general, the MSP business, if you go to your IT provider and say, “Hey, you know, what do I do to move to the cloud?” And maybe your MSP doesn’t yet have a strategy, but maybe they can find one.

 

Erik Linask  9:19  
So I’ve spent a lot of time talking to your team. A lot of your partners here, and everybody’s just had nothing but great things to say about what’s going on here this week, how the SkySwitch team has helped the reseller community. Is there anything about this week and the event that really stands out to you as far as why we’re seeing such a huge level of success with it?

Well I think it just comes back to success in general. Success breeds more success. So the partners who have come here feel successful, they’re willing to invest their time which is quite scarce, as small business owners, it’s hard to get away from the office. But they make the investment to come here and they feel like it’s paid off, because they’ve learned. 

Somebody was crying today. And he’s like, “I can’t believe how great this was”. And I think even just getting one small piece of information that helps make your business 2% better, makes it worthwhile. And I believe people feel like they’ve gotten that here. 

 

Erik Linask  10:26  
And you know, you said we’re going to be back here next year. Any thoughts on what we might see next year at Vectors?

 

Eric Hernaez  10:35  
Just more of the same. Probably a bigger conference. More great speakers, more of the same.

 

Erik Linask  10:43  
Excellent. Hey, Eric, thank you for taking a few minutes to talk. Congratulations on what’s been a fantastic week for SkySwitch here at Vectors.

 

Eric Hernaez  10:51  
Thank you Erik, it’s been a pleasure.