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Each of the more than 90 newcomers to the VAR 500 this year has its own story of how it arrived. Here's an inside look at three of the newcomers, each with a unique business model and ways to differentiate themselves from the competition.
Bluewolf, a New York-based VAR with offices in San Francisco and London, lands on the list for the first time at No. 494 after growing the business to $29 million in 2008 from $24 million the previous year. Bluewolf's success is due in part to a controlled growth plan that featured no venture capital or outside investment, said Eric Berridge, co-founder and principal of the company.
Bluewolf, founded in 2000, offers management consulting focused on custom business process applications. Its sweet spot, according to Berridge, is building services and solutions that bridge disparate processes within an organization.
"Everything from how organizations generate leads through how they take care of their customers," he said. "We work with organizations to refine those processes and implement Web 2.0 technologies in order to execute those processes."
Bluewolf focuses on enterprise financial services, media/telecommunications and technology/manufacturing vertical markets. In one project, Bluewolf helped Time Warner Cable identify the potential business clients that would buy voice, data and cable services from the communications giant. The VAR created a custom application, called Starting Point, for Time Warner that incorporated Salesforce.com and Google Maps to help determine whether Time Warner should pursue a lead, based on the customer's location vs. Time Warner's resources.
Successful firms know it's about the deals and the people behind the scenes. Bluewolf has some unique employment policies that have helped it achieve success and attract great talent, Berridge said.
"We don't track vacation. We could care less. If someone wants six months off, all we care are that the results are there and they are held accountable for their jobs and client relationships. Beyond that, we don't care if we work 10 days a week or two days a week," Berridge said. "We try to generate a culture that's a self-aware team organization."
Bluewolf had its best revenue ever in the first quarter, but Berridge is still cautious about 2009 because of macroeconomic issues. "We're aware of the fact that every one of our customers is being extra careful where they spend their funds. Their spending habits are doubly scrutinized," he said.
In addition, the VAR pitches short projects that could last just 10 weeks, which helps the company be more agile and also get in the door to work on a longer term relationship with bigger projects.
"Clients engage us to get a working product within a 30- to 60-day period of time. We ease into customers with small quick-hit engagements. We've been working with Dow Jones for four years. The largest project was $200,000. It's not big dollars per project, but in the Web 2.0 world and SaaS world, we find that clients constantly need to enhance and improve their processes in that area."
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