Pax8 CEO: AI Will Free Up MSPs To Be So Much More To Their Clients

‘There's so much opportunity, and my challenge is when I close my eyes, I can see it. I can see it end to end. Not just today, not just next month, but three years out, five years out. I see it. I just can't build it that fast,’ says Pax8 CEO Scott Chasin.

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At its inaugural Beyond conference in 2023, Pax8 executives announced where they think the marketplace of the future is going, and CEO Scott Chasin said the firm has been building it ever since.

“Not all customers will self-service, but more and more are trending in that direction,” Chasin told CRN in an exclusive interview. “We wanted to provide a capability for our partners to be able to answer that demand.

“Even for the larger MSPs that might have hundreds of operating companies, imagine a storefront for each of them,” he added. “So it’s different opportunities to service different audiences.”

A big part of that is AI which will make MSPs more efficient, giving them more opportunity to become a strategic partner to their clients.

“Some would say there's that motion out in the marketplace today, but as AI starts to really yield its true potential in terms of automation, taking the human out of the equation, it's going to free up managed service providers to be so much more,” he said. “I see the SMB of the future having a dozen strategic business advisors, trusted partners, how they manage them, how they discover them, that's all part of it. Ultimately, it's about relationships.”

This week, the Denver-based born-in-the-cloud distributor announced the next generation of its revamped cloud marketplace that will be available next week.

The marketplace enables Pax8 to help MSPs get matched up with end customers who are looking to buy direct through Pax8’s vendor partners.

Through a “buy now” button that most Pax8 vendor partners will have on their websites, end customers will be rerouted to Pax8’s marketplace and prompted to answer questions that will match them with an MSP if they don’t have one already.

Highlighted features include a quoting tool, customized and curated storefronts for end clients and opportunity explorer, a tool that acts as a high-powered set of binoculars, allowing partners to zoom in on the specifics to clearly see the bigger picture of the customer.

“It is about surfacing and exposing the unrealized revenue potential that each of their clients have in providing a view into the possible next logical solution,” Chasin said. “That's something that I think every MSP should have. Quite frankly, a lot of MSPs today do this in a very manual way. It’s a spreadsheet, here are my clients, here are my solutions. I think automating that is going to be a real win for a lot of MSPs.”

CRN sat down with Chasin to further discuss the marketplace, his vision for the future and how he’s going to take Pax8 to the next level.

Scott, you’ve been CEO for about six weeks now. How’s it going?

There’s not enough hours in the day. It feels like I'm working every hour that I'm awake and sometimes it feels like I'm working when I'm sleeping. And then when I'm not working, I am definitely thinking about work. I haven't even had an opportunity to reflect on this transition in my appointment, honestly. I might not have an opportunity to reflect, it's a symptom of Pax8’s continued hypergrowth. It's exhilarating, it's a wild ride and I get powered by that. It's the excitement and the opportunity to make a dent in this universe, and that's what we're going to do.

What are you most excited about when it comes to the revamped marketplace that Pax8 is launching next week?

Maybe the fact that it's coming out. No, it would have to be opportunity explorer. I think it's really poised to help managed service providers understand the customer lifecycle, to understand in an automated way, in a very beautifully way, what their clients need next. It is about surfacing and exposing the unrealized revenue potential that each of their clients have in providing a view into the possible next logical solution. That's something that I think every MSP should have. Quite frankly, a lot of MSPs today do this in a very manual way. It’s a spreadsheet, here are my clients, here are my solutions. I think automating that is going to be a real win for a lot of MSPs.

I also love the idea of storefronts in terms of managed service providers curating and building their own marketplaces, for their clients, to be able to put in front of their clients. Maybe it’s procurement and solution acquisition or maybe it’s feeding into their existing selling motion. The ability to have a storefront that they can put in front of a customer that they manage, that has their brand, I think is very powerful.

You mentioned that sometimes you're working when you're sleeping. So what keeps you up at night?

There's so much opportunity, and my challenge is when I close my eyes, I can see it. I can see it end-to-end. Not just today, not just next month, but three years out, five years out. I see it. I just can't build it that fast. I get up at night wanting to know how can I go faster? How can I execute faster? You can have an embarrassment of riches in terms of vision, in terms of strategy, but if you don't execute, it's meaningless. As CEO in my new role, it is about execution. It's about taking this vision and this roadmap of opportunity and making it real, and that's exactly what we're doing. We like to think that there's innovation out there, I haven't seen it for years now. We have a duty to our partners to innovate. When I got off stage [at Beyond], a partner came up to me and grabbed me by the shoulder and said, ‘Please take me into the future.’ I'm hearing that all over the place.

There's a gazillion layers of innovation in terms of ISVs and vendors and products, that's not what I'm talking about. Yes, there's lots and lots of areas of innovation that are specifically pointed at the MSP, but in terms of who's actually building the marketplace in the future… it's not there, except for Pax8. We have a responsibility to cut through the noise and to bring what's next into the MSP ecosystem. That's what a marketplace should really be about. Of course, automating, answering the end customer demand, creating self-service and more efficiencies around selling and customer acquisition, yes, all of that stuff. But it's also about simply showing them the future, giving them a path forward and allowing them to come along with us.

You said when you close your eyes, you see the vision five years out. What does it look like?

There's a lot of AI, there's a lot of security and it's largely about the end customer. I see a world in the future where managed service providers will evolve into strategic business partners for their clients. Some would say there's that motion out in the marketplace today, but as AI starts to really yield its true potential in terms of automation, taking the human out of the equation, it's going to free up managed service providers to be so much more. I see the SMB of the future having a dozen strategic business advisors, trusted partners, how they manage them, how they discover them, that's all part of it. Ultimately, it's about relationships. In the end, I see a big opportunity around relationship management and the ability to enable all kinds of intelligence and automation that drives growth and success.

You and [Pax8 founder] John Street both said this is the year of profitability. What’s the strategy to get there?

When you're in hypergrowth mode, it's hard to come up for air. You're so busy just servicing the demand. One of the things that we are very much focused on is curating the value that we deliver to our partners based on the needs of those specific partners. Largely what we do today is somewhat one-size-fits-all. We see an opportunity to really curate the value based off of where a partner is in their lifecycle. The return on that is definitely going to drive more focus on the needs of specific partners, which will result in more efficiency for Pax8 which ultimately will yield more profitable partners for Pax8. The big focus is really to optimize the value that we deliver to our partners given the lifecycle of where those partners are at.

Pax8 recently hit $2 billion in revenue, after hitting $1 billion about 18 months ago. What’s the next big goal and how do you plan on getting the company there?

We have an innovation roadmap that takes us to the stars. We have an ecosystem of partners which is continuing just to accelerate and go intergalactic. We are invested in not just the Americas but EMEA and APAC. We see the addressable market. That's a multi-trillion dollar opportunity. The small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of the world economy and the star of our show is the addressable market opportunity.

This is a conversion market meaning cloud and the enablement of that, AI and the enablement of that, security and the enablement of that… we're just in the early innings. When you think about the big picture, we see Pax8 as a large cap company in the future that is absolutely on a path to make a serious dent in this universe as the marketplace of the future.