Founder’s Chronicle: Interview with Dave Smith, Founder of TekScape

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC)



tekscapeWhat is TekScape, and how did you get started in the field?

TekScape is an advanced IT solutions provider specializing in network, data center and unified collaboration. I began Tekscape by taking Cisco certifications until I attained the highest level of professional certification that Cisco offers, the CCIE or Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert. With this solid foundation, strong interpersonal skills and networking, I began my business from a tiny New York City studio apartment. The company took off very quickly and hasn’t stopped. TekScape has been around for five years with more than 40 percent year over year growth.

How can individuals in the marketing/advertising industry (i.e. agencies, CMOs) use your TekScape to create either more impactful end-results or enhance in-house performance?

TekScape provides end-to-end IT needs for companies in all verticals. TekScape can specially tailor and implement IT infrastructure and unified communications to fit the needs of a marketing or advertising company so they may effectively reduce operating expenses, increase employee productivity and focus on running their business.

TekScape’s products — including high-level network integration, Voice over IP solutions, collaborative sharing and conferencing environments — are direct facilitators for the work carried out at these companies in the advertising and marketing industry. We can provide the interconnectivity between their clients, employees and, most importantly, their data and IT resources. More and more companies are looking to “go mobile,” and we can facilitate that with virtual desktop and phone hosting infrastructure so your employees are never limited — regardless of where they are at any given time.

What is your view of where your TekScape currently stands in the marketplace today? Where do you see your product/service/company in three years? What problem are you solving?

We are currently experiencing rapid growth as we have over the past five years. Because IT is such a necessary component for running any sort of company, delivering almost any service or executing any business transaction in today’s society, our products are just as needed now as they were in the recent past. Within the next three years, we will continue to grow at a rapid pace since we are on the cutting edge of advanced IT solutions, including virtual desktop and phone hosting — services designed to lower operating costs and simplify the workload of IT managers of companies across the spectrum.

As an entrepreneur, what impact has branding had on your venture’s success so far? How do you approach marketing? With whom do you collaborate to get your message out to your target audience?

The importance of consistent branding has been priceless for the success of TekScape because clients want a service provider that is consistent in all aspects of their business from messaging to delivery. We’ve been lucky to grow organically without the utilization of structured marketing. We now have a person on our team dedicated to sending weekly marketing newsletters to our clients, contacts and partners. Mainly, we collaborate with our key IT partners and their marketing platforms and resources. I’ve found that it’s a very reciprocal relationship. The more they help us market, the more they profit as well. It’s a win-win situation. TekScape is also focused on managing a concentrated social media campaign across three main platforms with the intention of staying connected to the public, getting our name out there and potentially generating sales leads.

What entrepreneurial ideas and startup lessons can advertising professionals apply to creating breakthrough work?

Do not be inhibited by fear of making a mistake or by executing a change away from your comfort zone. A good phrase for this is: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Keep a very close eye on the market you’re in and its upcoming trends. If you don’t stay one step ahead, then someone else will. Be humble: You are not the smartest businessperson in the room, and you do not have the best product. Learn from everyone around you — even your competitors. Be confident, but not naively arrogant.

Many advertising professionals find themselves interested in entrepreneurship. What advice would you give to someone with marketing skills interested in starting a new venture?

Know what you love to do, and find a niche in the market where your business products or services will be valuable and in demand. As a marketer, take advantage of your research and analytic skills. Create a strong initial foundation for your ideas and surround yourself with knowledgeable and ambitious people who will further propel your own efforts. Network with anyone and everyone — you never know where your clients will be. Talk about your company only after you learn about the person you meet. Be confident yet humble about your skills.

Thought leaders in marketing regularly reinforce the idea that agencies (and other marketing-oriented organizations, too) should collaborate with startups. Do you agree? Why? How would you like agencies to collaborate with your organization?

There is no question that marketing is an invaluable tool that no company should go without. Marketing agencies should collaborate with startups, and there are creative, cost-effective and basic, yet essential, ways they could do this. For example, an agency could lend an intern or an entry-level person to execute coherent social media campaigns or potential client outreach on behalf of B2B startups. Not only will their employees gain experience but also they will be dedicating valuable resources to a company that otherwise doesn’t have the time or resources for social media at the startup level.

In my particular case, TekScape is a B2B company. When it was established, social media wasn’t yet as widespread and necessary as it is today. Since we’ve been using social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, I’ve found two key things: It’s a challenge to capture a B2B market via these platforms, and in turn, it is difficult to measure an ROI of time spent on social media. TekScape would benefit from an agency’s collaboration because they would assist us in resolving these doubts, defining a specific campaign to focus our social media efforts and fuse them with our marketing tactics in an IT-specific way.

dave-smith-headshotDave Smith is the founder and CEO of TekScape, an advanced IT solutions company. Smith established TekScape in 2007 after achieving the CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert), the highest level of professional certification in network engineering offered by Cisco. With a vision for “landscaping technology,” he found a niche in the New York market as an advanced network, server and unified collaboration consultancy.

Entrepreneurial leaders have praised Smith for his visionary strategy and ability to drive an entrepreneurial culture. He has grown his business organically more than 5,000 percent over the last five years and has been featured on the Inc. 500/5000 list of the fastest growing privately-held companies for two consecutive years (No. 72 in 2011 and No. 589 in 2012).

His expertise in engineering and excellence in client relationships have been direct factors in TekScape’s rapid growth. In 2011, Smith was recognized as No. 5 on Inc.’s list of top ten global companies, given the niche opportunity he discovered working with the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. In providing services to the U.N., TekScape expanded its global reach and presence in international business.

You can connect with Dave on Twitter.

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