SMB Solution Provider Community Launches Member Portal

SMB portal

The Mobilize SMB Private Services Network at provides members of the fledgling but growing Mobilize SMB community of solution providers and MSPs with a central destination to contact and collaborate with one another. Key to the effort is helping SMB solution providers improve the profitability of their managed services offerings, said Amy Luby, CEO of Mobitech, an MSP in Omaha, Neb., and one of the founding members of Mobilize SMB.

Already hundreds strong, Mobilize SMB is looking to add new members over the next several months. Ultimately, the community would like to grow to a point of critical mass that enables it to influence vendors and get them to provide special advantages to members such as product discounts, more flexible licensing schemes and other perks, Luby said.

SMB solution providers and MSPs can become Mobilize SMB members by using the new portal, she said. Membership is free.

The Mobilize SMB effort is similar to industry organizations like the ASCII Group, which give members discounts on featured vendor specials. But unlike the all-purpose offerings of ASCII, Mobilize SMB seeks a more targeted focus that gives members wider access to training, guidance and vendor specials that can consistently benefit their businesses, she said.

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"It all goes back to the main issue of small VARs. How do we make ourselves scalable?" Luby said. "The answer for us is to come together."

Luby and several other Mobilize SMB members conducted a road show through several cities during 2006, but a Web-based portal will take the recruitment effort to the next level, and make it easier for more SMB solution providers and MSPs to become members, she said. Discussions about how to build SMB managed services business were top-of-the-ticket in each city, Luby said.

What Luby discovered during the road show was that many small one-, two- and three-person solution provider shops have held back rapidly growing their managed services businesses because of the cost of building the MSP offering. For example, small MSPs with only a few managed customers simply can't justify spending the thousands of dollars required to purchase what can typically be a minimum 100 or 250 device license from a MSP platform vendor, Luby said.

Mobilize SMB Private Services Network is a way to help change that, Luby said. Already, Mobilize SMB has worked out a deal with professional services automation vendor Autotask, East Greenbush, N.Y., to make available to members single licenses of Autotask's hosted PSA product. PSA products such as Autotask's can help solution providers better utilize their employee resources, organize scheduling of technicians, sharpen the accuracy of their billing and improve interdepartmental communication. The flexible licensing of Autotask enables members to grow their MSP businesses at a much lower up front cost, she said.

The Mobilize SMB effort and the idea of being able to use such an organization to gather vendor discounts and promotions appeals to Eric Clemens, CEO of Acroment Technologies, an MSP in Cleveland. Clemens likes the idea of being able to beat license minimums as he grows his MSP business.

"I've been using Autotask for the last nine months and love it. I like the five-license minimum right now, but I image that when I need that sixth license it's going to stick me to have to pay $250 per month just to get the one extra," he said.