ConnectWise President: We Want to Do Half Our Business Abroad

ConnectWise has launched a full-court press in the United Kingdom and Australia to grow foreign operations to half of overall sales from less than 30 percent today.

David Bellini, co-founder of the Tampa, Fla.-based professional services automation (PSA) vendor, relocated to London in January and took on the title of president and managing director of ConnectWise International (giving up chief financial officer and chief operating officer responsibilities) to supercharge growth abroad.

"We've been underexposed internationally for quite some time," Bellini told CRN Thursday during IT Nation 2015 in Orlando, Fla. "I think a 50-50 split [of domestic and international sales] is a healthy ratio."

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ConnectWise formally opened a 35- to 40-person London office in April and plans to make a big push into the Australian market early next year, Bellini said, eventually opening a 35- to 40-person office there as well.

A loosening of government regulations in the U.K. and Germany has resulted in a proliferation of small and midsize businesses there, most of which need a hand with technology. This, in turn, has facilitated 15 percent to 25 percent annual growth in the European managed services market, Bellini said.

ConnectWise's European expansion coincides with a strengthening of the economy, particularly in the U.K., Bellini said. In addition, high population density levels mean that ConnectWise can reach 20 million people within a 75-minute drive of its London office, he said.

The vendor has also experienced success converting MSPs from competitors to the ConnectWise product suite, Bellini said. This has been particularly true for remote control, where Bellini said frequent price increases by German competitor TeamViewer convinced many partners to switch to ScreenConnect.

Adding a PSA solution such as ConnectWise tends to propel massive growth, Bellini said, with some clients growing from five to 85 users in the months following install. As these companies grow, they tend to have larger spheres of influencers, which in turn results in more referrals to ConnectWise.

The biggest challenges have stemmed from the five-hour time difference between Tampa and London, which tends to result in ConnectWise's London employees getting inundated with emails from headquarters just as they're preparing to leave the office.

This has prompted ConnectWise to focus on building a stronger U.K.-based sales, support and Quosal staff so that the region can operate more autonomously, Bellini said.

In Australia, Bellini said ConnectWise has set up bank accounts with the intent of immersing itself there in early 2016. ConnectWise's initial focus will on providing more robust support to the MSPs the company is already working with in Australia and New Zealand.

From a technology standpoint, Bellini said, the U.S. is roughly 12 to 18 months ahead of Britain and Australia, meaning that MSPs are still seeing a lot of SMB customers that prefer an on-premise data center to a cloud deployment. ConnectWise will therefore be able to leverage its North America cloud expertise as resistance wanes in other parts of the world, Bellini said.

Long term, Bellini said ConnectWise is trying to figure out how to break into the Indian and Chinese markets since he expects both nations to have their own base of MSPs and managed services customers within the next decade.

ConnectWise already is relatively comfortable with the Indian market, Bellini said, since the vendor currently relies on a large group of Indian programmers to support its global operations.

The biggest thing ConnectWise can do to lure more international customers is to continue making incremental improvements to its products, focusing particularly on the creation of a common user interface across ConnectWise, LabTech, Quosal and ScreenConnect.

"We must make this a better suite so that MSPs can be more successful," Bellini said.

MSPCFO has three of its 100 clients based in the U.K. and another in Australia, according to company director Larry Cobrin. The Connecticut-based company has heard good things about ConnectWise's foreign push, with Cobrin hoping the efforts will help MSPCFO attract more international customers.