President & CEO
Location: Denver, CO
Industry: Business Continuity provider to Managed Service Providers
*Second Year Honoree*
Pick a goal, double it - then throw the first goal away.
David Bennett, President & CEO of Axcient, believes that achievable goals don’t change the world.
“Nothing is impossible,” Bennett said. “It may just not be the right time now, but that doesn't mean it cannot be achieved.”
And it is Bennett’s proven leadership that took Axcient through 2020, not only keeping it together, but also making it thrive.
“2020 was a challenging year for everyone on multiple levels,” he said. “It needed a shift in leadership focus to enable growth.”
Axcient sells through 3,000 partners globally who serve the SMB and Mid-Market, many of those partners are small businesses themselves. Bennett’s first question was ""what should we do to help our partners survive?” He emphasized that his is not about selling new solutions to solve their problems, but rather about survival.
“Any market-facing employee was tasked with the question what can we do to help,” Bennett said. “This wasn't about giving a free lunch or a pass on services they owed money on. But deciphering what can we do about extending terms and allowing temporary service downgrades where their end users were closed. This was an 8-week proactive engagement at the start of the pandemic - as it happened it only cost us about $200k in ARR - but we saved hundreds of partners that are now advocates.”
He said that while the customer-facing teams were doing this, he then asked the question, ""If the world never goes back to an office what does that do for our business?"" This was of great concern, as Axcient provides data-backup and business continuity that historically had a hardware element. He added that this led the company to build a fully cloud native business continuity solution with all the upside partners get when they use hardware - however now there is no hardware.
“This lead to solve the issues of remote work, inability to go on-site and solve all the market downsides a direct to cloud solution normally has,” Bennett said. “We went from ideation to GA in under 7 months than then drove the fastest growth in revenue in company history in Q4 2020.”
He said as Axcient rolled into 2020, he took the decision to exit parts of the business that were not based on their own IP.
“We actively walked away from $4M of ARR to create a better business,” he said. “Then came 2020/COVID and now we were dealing with not only a large revenue and profit decline that we knew about but a potential company ending and the world shutting down.”
Taking no PPP or COVID relief money, he decided to involve the whole company by offering a companywide incentive-based cost saving initiative that ended up saving the company $1.4M in expenses. He explained his reasoning for involving everyone at Axcient: to save customers, save money, and take advantage of the new world (new no hardware product).
“Creating a pool of team members that become friends that have been pushed far greater than they ever thought possible,” Bennett said. “And we achieved success they never thought was attainable for them and their colleagues."
His leadership advice is to surround yourself with great people you 100% trust, and be specific about what is going on.
“Over communicate to your teams,” he said, and added, “every dollar counts. In hardship, growth can come if we focus, and our goal is to keep everyone employed in 2020 with no RIF.”
Simply stated by this industry Titan: Be human, communicate everything, and make sure nobody is left alone."
"Nothing is impossible! It may just not be the right time now, but that doesn't mean it cannot be achieved."