3Points Now Serves Those with 50 to 100 PCs
Since 2001, 3Points has sat front row to many vision-inspired companies with 10 to 50 PCs. Countless success stories speak to how technology has helped our small business clients thrive. Now 3Points is broadening its reach to those with 50 to 100 PCs. Here’s why...
Cloud computing has changed the way people work and live. As a Managed Service Provider, we’ve seen the evolution. The cloud has simplified technology, freeing small businesses to operate like larger competitors, extending the office environment to a mobile workforce, and creating a platform for meaningful collaboration.
The cloud’s influence on those with 50 to 100 computers – business champions oftentimes poised for big growth leaps – has been significant too. This group is not just training for a marathon – they’re running 26.2! But there is some specialized “coaching” needed to run that race faster and smoother. Enter 3Points.
As an example, take a look at this growing, vibrant church organization using slightly more than 100 PCs. Offloading high-level tech initiatives has allowed their internal IT resource to focus on day-to-day work: deploying PCs, setting up new users and emails, addressing user questions and issues (this alone keeps an IT pro from eating lunch on time!), and basic network responsibilities.
The big news: The church has not had to add IT staff, saving substantial overhead. Organizations with 50 to 100 computers need higher-level solutions. Many of these are set-it-and-forget-it, allowing internal IT staff to focus on daily responsibilities and the technology areas they are most passionate about.
Fact: It’s impossible for one person to know everything in this industry. Having a team of IT experts allows growing companies to focus on their core business and day-to-day technology needs.
For our small business clients who grow into the 50 to 100 PC range, this supplemental plan is ready and waiting for them too as they most likely transition into a full-time technology officer.
Shark Tank – Chicago-Style
Steve Banke, CEO 3Points
I’ve attended two Shark Tank-like pitch events here in Chicago hosted by the Small Business Advocacy Council. Electric. That’s the word that comes to mind to describe the event’s charged atmosphere. It starts when the networking begins. Picture a group of people hanging out in a hip venue surrounded by an intense anticipation that something really big is about to begin. Big – as in, you get to see firsthand thousands of dollars and people’s dreams parlayed into deals.
As many of you know, 3Points champions the work of the SBAC. I personally have visited Springfield and Washington, D.C., advocating for small business in Illinois and connecting many people with SBAC resources.
How it works
One of those resources is SBAC’s pitch sessions. The quarterly events are led by the group’s Startup and Technology Community. Since the Great Recession of 2008, funding continues to elude many small businesses, stifling the single largest growth opportunity in our economy. SBAC went looking for a solution.
After meeting with angel investors and other funders, the group discovered that everybody was trying to find each other. Taking a creative approach to solving a complex problem, the pitch sessions came about in 2013, connecting the dots between capital and entrepreneurship.
The interesting part: There’s not just one winner who walks away with a big funding prize. I’ve seen people in the audience end up funding other presenters right before my eyes. You’ve got the right people in the room – innovative entrepreneurs hungry to launch their ideas and those with the means to make it happen. Like The Voice, the popular talent show matching coaches with hopeful stars, the audience (they’ve had as many as 400 attend) plays a significant role. They use a Twitter handle to vote, along with a panel of judges made up of VC company standouts and former founders of successful IPOs. Each of the three presenting companies gets five minutes to pitch and 10 minutes for Q&A.
Prior to a pitch session, SBAC invites entrepreneurs from places like 1871, The Garage at Northwestern University and other startup incubators around Chicago. A pitch committee chooses a final three.
Then, the prep work begins. Candidates work with a speech coach and others to get them ready. What began as simply putting people up on stage has evolved into a streamlined grooming of presenters, a full-blown planning committee, pedigree judges and celebrity keynoters that have included Mark Lawrence, co-founder and CEO of SpotHero, and Senator Napolean Harris.
Show me the money
SBAC lines up sponsors so the winner not only gets funding, but also enviable perks like office supplies, access to legal advice and even 10 hours of free IT support from, you guessed it, 3Points. Companies typically ask for early-stage, pre-venture funding between $250,000 and $2 million.
In total, there have been about 20 events with 60 to 80 companies pitching. Not all the money comes from judges. One presenter got $350,000 from an audience member. An executive from a burger restaurant that won in 2015 spoke at SBAC’s work center this past spring. His company snared $1.7 million in funding after the pitch event.
Beyond the pitch session
The SBAC pitch sessions make an even more compelling story when you connect them with the group’s advocacy efforts. In January last year, SBAC rallied to pass the Illinois Intrastate Equity Crowdfunding Bill (HB 3429). Having regulations that support Illinois’ start-up community creates even greater opportunity.
According to Mike Cavanaugh, SBAC co-founder and co-CEO, the testimonials from pitch session participants prove the worth of these events. Here’s a note from past winner Regroup Therapy: “Winning the SBAC pitch competition was a critical moment in closing our series seed round of investing. SBAC understands what it takes to build a business from nothing and we value their support and mission.”
I’ve seen some pretty impressive deal-making go on at these events where business cards are traded and organizations are funded just by having the right people in the room. People working together to move real businesses upstream – now that’s Shark Tank, Chicago-style.
Steve Banke is founder and CEO of 3Points, LLC. Stay tuned for future articles on small business topics in both the 3Points newsletter and blog posts. If you want to know more about the SBAC, email Steve or call him at (708) 491-0300.
Mike Cavanaugh, co-founder and co-CEO of the SBAC, contributed information to this blog post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SharePoint: A Deeper Dive
Jon Pisani, Sales Engineer Manager
Jack doesn’t know how to use the new coffee machine in the company lunchroom. No one is around. Jack needs caffeine. Do you want Jack to fall asleep at his desk or do you want him to finish his report for the board meeting?
SharePoint to the rescue.
An exaggerated example at best (or worst!). Nonetheless, the point is that if Jack needs to know how to use the new coffee machine – a very important task many people in the company will want to know – he can just look it up on the company’s internal wiki (a fancy name for an organization’s internal website that can be edited by its users) where he will find the process document with easy-to-follow instructions in (wait for it) SharePoint Online.
Many 3Points clients are on Microsoft 365 plans that include SharePoint licensing. What you may not know is how it will help to improve office communication, and act as a “company university” for immediate access to knowledge and information.
Here are three points that take you deeper into SharePoint.
1. Share with External People.
A lot of people don’t know this, but you can absolutely share files through SharePoint with people outside the company. Let’s say I want to send a video educating a client about backup options. Since the huge 20 MB file is already on SharePoint, my client can easily download it herself. She gets the information she need quickly, and I look like a hero.
2. Increase Productivity.
Have you ever been on hold for 20 rounds of “Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna? (I never liked that song when it came out in 1986.) No one likes to wait for an answer. So give your people what they need when they need it. SharePoint is a company’s go-to place for training materials and company processes. If you have a new hire, you point them to the “Training” SharePoint page and say “this is your world for the next two or three days.” Let the end-user educate themselves at their own pace, freeing up time for other people.
At 3Points, our benefits packages and plans for health, dental and vision are on SharePoint. If anybody has a question, they go to the site and examine the plan. We put up meeting notes from every department, sales presentations, audit best practices – any static documents.
3. The Gotchas
SharePoint is not a replacement for a real file server, but rather a place to hold things that are not going to be changed frequently. Other examples include: expense forms, contracts or Statements of Work, vendor contact lists, vacation request forms, and emergency procedures.
SharePoint is perfect as a collaborative team site for an organization and is easily organized by department. In small businesses, people oftentimes wear a lot of hats. When people share best practices, they go from silo to farm. Training material, set-up instructions, tutorial videos, Podcasts and other helpful information has a home on SharePoint leaving Jack absolutely no excuse for sleeping on the job because he couldn’t get the darn coffee machine to brew.
Jon Pisani is the sales engineering manager at 3Points where he manages maintenance agreements and contracts with vendors, leads audits for new business sales, and manages the 3Points Tech Team. Email Jon at email@example.com.