Previously I shared how Smart Dolphins IT Solutions started down a new path of offering technology training to the Vancouver Island business community. It has been about two years since we started this business unit and I estimate we’ve had over 1000 learners attend Smart Dolphins training sessions. We have had over 400 attendees at our 2020 Microsoft Teams training events alone! Demand continues as we develop additional content and raise awareness about this resource.
Thank you to all those who have attended and a special thanks to everyone who helped spread the word that we’re on a mission to strengthen our business community’s technology skills and knowledge. Read about our upcoming sessions here.
Now that we are a couple of years in, I can see clearly that training isn’t just a complement to traditional IT services, but, instead, an essential part of an organization’s IT culture. The essence of a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is intended to be a holistic IT solution for a business and training is needed to round that out.
However, a training competency isn’t a natural complement to the inner workings of a typical IT company — it’s a bit of a different beast. When COVID-19 hit and the rush to work from home started, the value of training became obvious and I could see that my peers in the MSP industry struggled to build this capability quickly. This led to the next evolution of the training idea: we decided to create a separate business that offers our matured training competency to other MSPs in North America.
In September of 2020, we launched PoplarMSP and about six months in we already have a handful of clients. We are focussed on building out a network of trainers and topics and are in “startup” mode with sales and marketing. We’re getting lots of great feedback on the idea and I’m grateful for all the amazing support from my industry network to getting PoplarMSP off the ground.
Those that know me well know I’m a business nerd. I’ve been a latent serial entrepreneur for a long time and so PoplarMSP has been a great energy-giving project for me and the team. I’m not only building something new and exciting, but I’ve doubled down on my love for my first child, Smart Dolphins. Given how complementary the two businesses are, I can feel the momentum building in the virtual halls of Smart Dolphins and PoplarMSP. Moreover, offering this training to the world is only making our capabilities that much more valuable for our own community — our original mission from two years ago.
Building and running a successful MSP is exceedingly difficult. I’ve lived this business closely with many others in the industry through peer groups and elsewhere. And so, it’s so satisfying to now be helping some amazing peers grow their MSPs. And of course, we are now helping a much larger business community (we’ve gone international!) better use the technology they sit in front of every day. I’m super excited to see where we go in 2021 and beyond.