Adapt, And Grow Like Gangbusters

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It may sound simple, but executing on that strategy can take a lot of discipline and patience, say some of the new members of this year's CRN Fast Growth 100 list.

Take Caneum Inc., the list's highest-ranking newbie and No. 3 on the Fast Growth list overall. The Newport Beach, Calif.-based solution provider was founded in 2000, but it took several years to develop its model to the point where revenue took off, said its new president, Suki Mudan. Given its 447 percent revenue increase from 2005 to 2007, it's safe to say the evolution has proven successful.

Caneum offers application development and business process outsourcing services through a hybrid model of offshore and on-site presences, Mudan said.

"It's a bit of a clich, but you have to be so nimble. We change models as we go along. When I started, outsourcing was everything. I never thought and#91;a hybridand#93; would be our model when we started. But you have to be very adaptable. Relationships are very important," he said.

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By relying on offshore resources in India, and engineers that can be on a customer's site, Caneum feels it can offer the best of both worlds.

"Pure offshore and#91;companiesand#93; compete on price. On-site guys compete more on reaction time and the ability to respond. We're able to do both. It's not the cheapest solution, but it's the most effective. That's what I call a lesson learned," Mudan said.

Caneum's growth has been spurred by acquisitions of Tier One Consulting in California and Continuum Systems in India. The solution provider said it's looking for more targets to continue its growth strategy.

"It's the fastest way to grow. The alternative, building a business development team, hiring salesmen, is a longer path," Mudan said.

Meanwhile, Limelight Networks Inc. (FG2008 #4) has a hyper-growth model in its DNA, according to Jeff Lunsford, who joined the 7-year-old Tempe, Ariz.-based company as chairman and CEO in November 2006.

Limelight's founders predicted an enormous need for businesses to deliver video, music and game content with broadcast quality over the Internet. The company began building an infrastructure capable of delivering that content. In today's YouTube era, that prediction has become a reality. Limelight's revenue has increased from $21.3 million in 2005 to $103.1 million last year, according to the company.

"We had very little marketing budget for the first six years, few salespeople. But we had a network that worked, and the world beat a path to our doorstep," Lunsford said.

Limelight counts some of the world's-largest content providers as clients: Disney, Fox, Microsoft and Netflix. The solution provider has data centers worldwide, and when a customer wants to make a new video file available to customers, the file is propagated by Limelight to its many servers. When a customer wants to access the file, Limelight helps locate the closest data center to deliver the content more efficiently.

"We are still laser-focused on building out the highest-performance network on the planet as more consumers consume everything music, video, games over the Web," Lunsford said. "We see a massive shift from advertising as it is today to move over the Web. We believe the IP network will be the primary mode of content delivery and we will play a major role."

Sometimes, solution providers find unlikely help from the cruel hand of Mother Nature. After Hurricane Katrina battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, end users started lining up to back up their data, according to Stuart Raburn, president of TekLinks Inc., a Birmingham, Ala.-based solution provider that made its name as a Gold partner of both Cisco Systems Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Two years ago, TekLinks invested in a data center in Birmingham to back up those clients' data and the company is now building a second data center in Hattiesburg, Miss., to support clients in that area, Raburn said.

Next: 24/7 World

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"Customers are realizing that they're in a 24/7 world. Everything has to be redundant. We have small and midrange businesses and#91;as customersand#93;. It's not cost- effective for them to do it themselves. They look to us," he said. "We saw a need, bought a building and renovated it. It's been a huge success for us."

Data backup, combined with existing infrastructure solutions, has helped TekLinks increase revenue from $10 million to $36.6 million in two years, a 266.9 percent increase that lands the solution provider at No. 15 on the Fast Growth list.

"If you look at the bulk of services, they revolve around Cisco wireless, unified communications, security, Microsoft Exchange and our data centers," Raburn said.

TekLinks relies on an engineer-heavy business model and a limited vendor line to win business, he said.

"Most and#91;resellersand#93; we see run into the dozens or hundreds of manufacturers' products. You can list ours on one hand. You take 60 systems engineers and all they do is support three or four or five products; they become subject-matter experts," Raburn said. "You compare that to companies that have a light engineering bench to support products they've never even seen before. That's a core reason for our success."

Like TekLinks, Miro Consulting Inc. (FG 2008 #17), a Fords, N.J.-based solution provider, has built its reputationand#8212;and revenueand#8212;around one vendor.

"We've always been fascinated by Oracle licensing, getting underneath the hood to find what's behind the license entitlements. Ultimately, it was something that our clients wanted," said Scott Rosenberg, founder and CEO of Miro Consulting.

The solution provider doesn't sell the licenses to all clients. More often than not, it makes its money by managing the licenses on behalf of clients, Rosenberg said. Miro Consulting has found its sweet spot: Customers with roughly 500 employees and revenue in the low-nine figures are willing to pay for help with Oracle.

"They wanted to be on Oracle technology but they didn't have the time or energy to get their arms around it. They wanted to feel peace of mind that they were making the right decisions based on the right data. Having us specialize in that area gave them peace of mind," Rosenberg explained. "We combined putting the time and energy into mastering Oracle licensing and putting together a fair deal for our clients and for Oracle. We don't want to break the Guinness record for the best deal ever. We know the end game. We want to come with a fair deal."

Bill Hall, president of Boice Enterprises, a Paoli, Ind.-based solution provider (FG 2008 #16), said the key to his company's success has been two-pronged: a focus on solving customers' business problems as opposed to selling technology, and the hiring of employees that were formerly employed in customers' industries.

Forty percent of his employees have that vertical industry knowledge, Hall said, and revenue has jumped from $4 million in 2005 to more than $14 million in 2007. "We can talk their terminology and how technology can solve their issues. They've shared that pain. We've got guys that have been in health care for 20 years. We become the trusted adviser because we understand those business issues," Hall said.

Boice Enterprises has also made the right investments in technology itself. The solution provider became the first Cisco VoIP-certified partner in its area and now it's looking to EMC Corp. and VMware Inc. to fortify its future.

"The next thing we're doing is to create business-continuity plans for those customers to further help them with their business issues. If you can understand how and#91;technologyand#93; impacts their business, that's the value statement," Hall said.