By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller
Managecore, a provider of SAP Technical Managed Services, might be the biggest Milwaukee success story you’ve never heard of.
In August 2022, Inc. Magazine released its annual list of the fastest growing companies in the nation. Managecore was the highest-ranking company in the metro Milwaukee area, and the second-fastest growing company in Wisconsin.
Ranked at #488, the SAP (System Applications and Products in Data Processing) technical managed services company easily outranked much talked about startups Fetch (#617) and Frontdesk (#975) by showing an astonishing three-year growth rate of 1,266%, according to the magazine.
The Franklin-based company was launched in 2016, with early capital investments from Blackthorne Partners, which invested $1.24 million in 2016 and $751,000 in 2017.
MKEStartup.News spoke with company founder and SAP industry veteran Frank Powell about the runaway success of Managecore.
MSUN: What is the SAP market like?
FP: SAP is a unique software product that most of the Fortune 5000 companies run, not 100% of them, but 90% of the biggest companies in the world run SAP and it literally is the heartbeat of their business. So, when SAP is down, people stop making products, shipping products, taking orders for product; literally, their world comes to a screeching halt. We work in a very ‘mission critical’ IT environment.
The 24/7 nature of what we do is very key. We maintain these systems and tune them to ensure they are properly optimized and always up and running.
We are very proud that Managecore has had 100% project success and 100% customer retention to date.
MSUN: According to Inc. Magazine, Managecore had a three-year growth rate of 1,266%. How did you accomplish that feat?
FP: Honestly, I have a great team. CMO Kristin Taner and CTO Nick Miletich have been with us from the very beginning.
When we started Managecore, we just did the typical “back of the napkin plan”. If we’re going to start a company from scratch, what would we do differently (type of) conversation.
We really looked back at what SAP customers told us (in the past). I’ve been doing this since the late ‘90s. and have been leading SAP managed services teams for a very long time. So, when starting Managecore we asked ourselves what are the things that customers don’t like about outsourcing IT services and wrote those all down.
Then we asked ourselves, how do we fix those things and how do we do something better and different?
Things like being transparent and always having senior-level resources came to the top of the list. Employing senior-level resources was essential so that you’re not going to get bounced from one inexperienced person to the next, and to the next and (it) could take four iterations to get to the person who can actually answer the question.
At Managecore we hire senior people so that when you pick up the phone and call Managecore, you’re getting direct access to someone that can actually answer your problem.
Our unique delivery model has really been the big part of our success. as far as the service-level side, that is having the right people and the right tools.
Another one of Managecore’s initiatives is that we want to do twice as much with half the number of people. With that goal in mind, we really try to leverage as much software as we can and use automation where we can. Hiring all senior-level people helps because their time to resolution for a problem is much quicker than someone who’s trying to research it and figure it out.
By just the nature of the quicker turnaround, they can handle more problems or get more work done in a day than other people can.
MSUN: What gives Managecore its edge?
FP: We’re a very competitive group. I will say our sales group is one of the more competitive sales teams you’ll get. People always say, ‘our sales team is competitive, we want to win.’ But what are you willing to do to get there? As a starting point, the sales team, Kristin, Nick and myself meet every day at 8:30am.
Lots of people have a weekly sales meeting or a biweekly sales meeting and their sales team is off by themselves. We literally meet every day in the morning, and that sets our agenda of ‘what are we going to sell today?’ It’s ‘what proposal has to go out the door? What call are we going to be on? Are we prepared? Do we need to write a proposal and create some PowerPoint slides?’
It is a real emphasis on putting our best foot forward every day, all day with every prospect and customer we come into contact with. Every one of our deals is a competitive situation. … There’s always at least two, if not three or four, and sometimes five or six other competitors in deals.
By no means are we perfect, but we try to be. Managecore’s leadership team puts a real emphasis on every deal is important. Every customer is important.
MSUN: How can a small Wisconsin-based company compete with large SAP management firms?
FP: Managecore manages technology, but people want to do business with people they like. My two sales guys, they are great guys who have experience and truly care about the customer’s experience with Managecore
It is about trying to develop that personal relationship with our customers … which goes a long way because we do compete with large international system integrators such as Accenture and Deloitte.
Large companies tend to take an unpersonalized approach to customer delivery which can be very programmatic. Some large consulting companies can bring a large amount of consultants to the engagement but having an army of inexperienced resources is inefficient for SAP customers.
SAP customers want to be confident in the services and who is delivering those services. Many SAP customers would much rather work with someone that they know, they trust, and they can really relate to which is also one of our major strengths.
Lastly regarding Managecore’s growth, I would just say a lot of credit is owed to CMO Kristin Taner. She’s a one-person wrecking crew. She really is. I mean, she can go and execute on the marketing front (in a way) that is amazing … She’s done a tremendous job, not only working on our marketing materials, but working with our partners, like Google Cloud. She works a lot with the Google Cloud partner marketing team and with SAP all which has really created a huge presence for Managecore in the ecosystem.
MSUN: High quality staff has been essential to Managecore success. How have you been able to find talent?
FP: Part of it is a lot of us have been in the industry a long time, so we know where the good people are. I’m not trying to hire hundreds of people. I’m trying to hire two to three at a time. That’s just a function of our size.
And from a technical person’s perspective, one of the things I know is a draw to work at Managecore is that when you reach a certain level of IT seniority and you don’t want to go into management, you hit a certain plateau. What’s your challenge, right? Where will your career go? It can start to become pretty mundane.
So, one of the things that we’ve done from the very beginning, because it’s a technical strength for us, is we cross train our people. If you know one discipline, we want to cross train you in other disciplines; not that this second discipline becomes your primary job responsibility, but it gives you visibility, it helps you troubleshoot problems more deeply. You get to learn a new skill set on the side and I think people really appreciate that.
To learn more about this nationally recognized company with an international client list, connect with Managecore here.