Stratodesk began transitioning to a channel-first model last year, which saw more than half of all sales go through partners, a percentage which had never been above 5% before.
Today, Stratodesk, which makes managed endpoint software for end-user computing [EUC], has announced record-breaking revenue growth in 2021 as a result of their transitioning to a channel model. While no more than 5% of sales went through partners before 2021, channel sales rose to over 50% last year, with pipeline growing over 300%.
Stratodesk has been around since 2010, founded by Emmanuel Pirker, who remains the company’s CEO.
“I wrote most of the code myself,” Pirker told ChannelBuzz. “We started as a software company in what was then a hardware market. We were ahead of our time then. We made a managed secure Linux OS, which was primarily targeted at the VDI market.”
Pirker said that the company has been quietly built up over the decade because of the way it has grown.
“Stratodesk is fully self funded, with no outside capital, no debt, and no board pointing a gun to my head,” he stated. That’s why it took the company some time to grow. We have a much wider hardware compatibility and have established a lot of firsts. We were the first commercially available Raspberry Pi distribution. We were the first Nutanix Frame integration. We developed software of top of the Citrix Workspace Hub. But while I see us as a company of the firsts, we also need to tell people about them effectively, and we have gotten exponentially better at that.”
Stratodesk was a relative latecomer to the channel. Until 2021, it generally accounted for a maximum of 5% of sales. However, in 2021 more than 50 of sales went through channel partners.
“I believe in the channel for two reasons,” Pirker said. “I want to run Stratodesk as lean and slim as possible, and it’s easier to keep the organization as slim as possible with a channel model. The other reason is that we have got such great technical feedback from channel partners who installed our NoTouch solution in different customer areas. We would not have gotten into a leadership position without those kinds of relationships.”
A key development in all this was the hire of Steve Thompson as Vice President of Global Channels in April 2021.
“I hired Steve to get somebody on board who knows the channel intimately,” Pirker indicated. “Before this, our salesforce was much more inbound, replying to inbound leads from marketing like Google Ads. That worked, but that is not how you really grow. One of our competitors, IGEL, had really grown after they put more boots on the ground, and Steve made a decision to put boots on the ground like IGEL.”
“Most of our partners are EUC reseller/integrators, with some of the newer ones coming from relationships made in my Wyse and Citrix days,” Thompson said. “They are typically Citrix Platinum and Gold partners, as well as VMware and Microsoft partners. We have also hired direct salespeople that embrace the channel, who want to work for a channel friendly company. We have some traditional fulfilment partners like CDW and SHI. We have also seen interest from MSPs, not so much from startup MSPs as from traditional partners who have been transitioning to this model.”
Stratodesk is continuing to build its channel out, signing an average of 10 new resellers per month, with recent ones including Melillo Consulting and SmartSoft. Thompson emphasized, however, that the goal is to sign up good partners and not to have too many.
“My philosophy is always quality,” Thompson said. “To have 200 resellers in the continental US now doesn’t make sense. In the next couple of years, could that many resell us? Yes, but many would be one-off resellers, who are not in our Edge program in a defined tier. Many of our resellers are to penetrate other markets like Brazil or APAC, where it is much more efficient to do this through the channel. The channel will help us penetrate markets where we don’t already have a physical presence.”
A reseller program existed before Edge, but Thompson acknowledged that it needed a lot of work.
“Most of it was reactive, and we wanted to make it proactive, which is why Edge came about,” he said. “We interviewed some existing and prospective partners in the early summer of last year, and asked them what they wanted. We then built a world class partner portal with access to things like deal registration, and self-paced training, and allow partners to make up to 40% margin, depending on tier level. Stratodesk also provides flexible licensing options, sales and marketing incentives, and a centralized management platform enabling them to manage, monitor and update customer accounts.
“Partner feedback remains absolutely critical in helping us plan what the product needs to look like,” Thompson added.
Looking ahead, Thompson said to expect a programmatic initiative around MSPs.
“The interest within the MSP market grows weekly, and we do have a satisfactory offering there, but in the very near future we will be announcing what we consider to be EUC’s best MSP program,” he stated.