With 14,000 tech establishments employing nearly 189,000 tech workers, it’s no wonder that Startup Genome has named Atlanta one of the top ten tech startup ecosystems for local connectedness around the globe. But creating a successful IT startup is not as easy as it sounds, and our next guest knows a thing or two about overcoming challenges in the tech startup landscape. On today’s show we welcome Mark Metz, CEO of ReluTech, an IT solutions provider focused on reducing costs within existing customer environments.VIDEO TRANSCRIPT:
Jim Fitzpatrick: Welcome to the Atlanta Small Business Show, Mark.
Mark Metz: Thank you.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Tell us a little bit about, first of all, for the viewers that aren’t as familiar with Mark Metz, tell us about some of the successes that you’ve had in the startups that you’ve already been through and some of the exits.
Mark Metz: I worked at a tech company for about 10 years and then started my first company called Optimus Solutions with three business partners that had worked with me at my previous company. And it was a great success. At, I think one year, we were the fastest growing technology company in Georgia.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow, that’s phenomenal.
Mark Metz: We grew it to over $100,000,000.
Jim Fitzpatrick: And what did the company do?
Mark Metz: Well, it started off as a refurbished IT equipment provider. We spun out a company out of Optimus called Chorus 360, which is also here in Tech Park in Peach Tree Corners. And that company also grew to over $100,000,000 in revenue.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Phenomenal, wow.
Mark Metz: And then finally I started a fourth company called Relutech, which is also here in Technology Park and Peach Tree Corners.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Cool. What does Relutech do?
Mark Metz: So if someone had a legacy environment of the typical data center full of servers and lots of applications running on those servers and storage devices and they wanted to be more innovative and nimble and they needed to move to the cloud, the problem is that’s not easy to do. A lot of things can break and they needed a great consulting partner to help them move to Amazon. That’s where we came in.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay. In your opinion, having started and sold multiple businesses, what does Atlanta offer to startups that is unique to this community?
Mark Metz: For a young person starting their career, the cost of living here is probably a third of what it might be in San Francisco.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right, easily.
Mark Metz: I don’t even know how you could afford to live out there.
Jim Fitzpatrick: No, it’s crazy.
Mark Metz: So for someone who’s building a company, it’s a whole lot easier here.
Jim Fitzpatrick: For sure. Being a serial entrepreneur as you are, and obviously congratulations to all of your successes there, what has been some of the common reoccurrences that you have seen throughout all of your business endeavors that make them successful?
Mark Metz: Execution I think is key. Ideas are easy often. I can come up with a lot of great business ideas. And I’ve listened to a lot of great business ideas. And the biggest part of execution is sales. I’ve seen a lot of great ideas that they just foster the idea and hope the customers magically show up. That doesn’t happen. You have to get out and hustle and find customers and I think that’s what we’re able to do.
Secondly, I can’t underestimate the value of having either great business partners or those first employees that you hire. Finding great people is key in any startup.
Jim Fitzpatrick: So switching gears a little bit, where should tech startups seek support in Georgia? Obviously. it’s a hotbed of startups and they’re all looking for different types of support. Where should they go?
Mark Metz: I would suggest there’s lots of places to find help that aren’t government programs that are right around the corner. So you could join TAG, for example, and find like-minded individuals.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure, talk to us about TAG. That’s a pretty progressive community. And for those that don’t know about TAG, it’s Technology Association of Georgia, right?
Mark Metz: Right. So I believe it’s the largest technology association of any state in the country.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Is it really?
Mark Metz: I believe so. And the value I’ve seen from it is not necessarily the programs. It’s really the connections. It’s exactly what I just talked about. It’s finding people that might be potential partners. They might be potential customers. They might be potential vendors. And certainly might be great advisors. And they all were here and it’s almost, it’s an inexpensive resource to find people that might be able to mentor your business or to be involved in it in some way.
Jim Fitzpatrick: I mean, you may jump out there and somebody may say well if you did this and this and this we’d be a buyer for it. And don’t you find that to be the case as well, that sometimes the market can be the best advice that you can get?
Mark Metz: 100% of the time. Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. That’s the other great advantage. You’re getting really free advice. By getting out and trying to sell your product, you’re going to find out what customers really need.
Jim Fitzpatrick: You have kind of a new take on failure. You say fail fast, fail often.
Mark Metz: Fail fast, fail often.
Jim Fitzpatrick: And drill down on that a little bit.
Mark Metz: Well, you know, technology has allowed this too. So the technology and these co-working incubator accelerator type spaces have allowed someone to come in, try out an idea and hopefully, in three months you’ll know.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, that quick.
Mark Metz: And you should know. You should get out and try to sell it as quickly. You should, as I mentioned, try to fund it yourself and get off the ground quickly. And the idea is, I want to see as quickly as possible if this works and fail quickly. If it’s a bad idea you want to know in two or three months.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Well Mark Metz, this has been very enjoyable and very enlightening for our viewers today so thank you so much for coming by the Atlanta Small Business Show. We appreciate it. Hopefully, we can have you back to talk more shop about tech and all that’s going on right here in Peach Tree Corners and in Atlanta.
Mark Metz: Great, well thank you for having me.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Great. Thank you.
ASBN, Atlanta Small Business Network, part of JBF Business Media.