Platte Rivers David DeCamillis: Perfecting the Managed-Services Model

**Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of profiles featuring Channel Partners advisory board members. Meet De Camillis and the rest of the board by attending the Spring 2015 Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Register here.**

David DeCamillis says an open mind is crucial to navigating changing industry landscapes.

He now works in the tech sector as Platte River Networks’ vice president of sales and marketing after journeying through multiple career paths.

DeCamillis joined the Denver-based IT provider in 2008, in search of a “recession-resistant” industry after his entertainment company – reliant on sponsors – couldn’t survive the economic slump.

And Platte River has proven to be recession-resistant, reporting a 21 percent revenue increase from 2012 to 2013. DeCamillis said it has grown 50 percent in the past three years.

“We’ve always seen growth,” he said. “But I think once we perfected our managed services model – we started seeing massive growth.”

Businesses that want to sell managed services must begin by investing slowly, DeCamillis said. He recommends email filtering, email security and endpoint security as foundational products.

“You need to effectively develop the entire process starting with marketing, selling, handoff to operations, onboarding, ongoing management, billing, etc.,” he said. “Once the process is efficient and margins are where they need to be, then you can start to build your practice.”

IT management software also proves essential for integrating managed-service products, DeCamillis said.

For its part, Platte River Networks added providers of email filtering and security, business continuity, RMM and endpoint security in the past two years.  

“The existing products were failing and the new products were providing better features that benefit our customers,” DeCamillis said, adding that the influx in technology increases affordability and puts businesses that don’t want to adapt in danger of being “left behind.” 

Platte River’s ultimate goal, he said, is to simplify its clients’ infrastructure during an age of developing technologies.

“The way I look at it is, advancements in technology are simplifying the way we do business,” DeCamillis said. “The problem is, advancements also introduce a lot of newer technologies into the environment, so ‘simple’ isn’t always a word I would apply to technology when it comes to managing it.”

The growing abundance of technologies may complicate a company’s approach to a problem, DeCamillis said.

“A lot of our competitors will throw all the new solutions at it, and basically, they will make it so complex that one little issue can cause a lot of other issues downstream,” he said.

Denver, Boulder and Everywhere in Between

Long before Platte River, DeCamillis dreamt of going into video production. That was the primary reason he studied broadcast journalism at Arizona State University.

“Not only did I want to be in front of the camera …

but I also wanted to be behind the camera,” he said. “I like to create the content and not only come up with content that resonates with the audience, but create it in a way that’s unique and entertaining.”

DeCamillis came to Arizona from Boulder, Colorado, where he graduated from high school and tried business school for a year. He grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, but moved to Boulder in 1979 after his father went bankrupt in real estate. He met future Platte River Networks CEO Treve Suazo in junior high, and his future wife, Amy, in high school.

From there, DeCamillis interned at ESPN and served as the editor of a campus publication. But he put his video career on hold coming out of college when his brother recommended he become a stockbroker. He was handed a phone book that served as his guide for the job; he made no fewer than 100 calls per day.

“My life wasn’t as crazy as the ‘Wolf [of Wall Street],’ but it was pretty frickin’ crazy,” he said.

DeCamillis spent eight years in the boiler-room environment, a time that paid well but that took its toll.

“Honestly, part of it was a rush, but most of it I was completely disgusted with and hated,” he said. “And I knew I needed to figure out how to do it the right way.”

He did that by assuming a new role as an independent financial consultant, removing himself from what he calls the “stock jockey” culture.

“It was a great wake-up call for me at a young age, in my mid-20s, to be exposed to the wrong way to sell,” said DeCamillis. “And I think that really shaped my view, aptitude and my motivation.”

In His Element

DeCamillis found a far better fit at Platte River, a company he says is oriented around helping people. Contributing to a company’s growth, he said, matters more than getting commission.  

“I kind of cringe when people say, ‘Oh, you’re a sales guy.’ I really don’t feel like I’m a sales guy,” he said. “I’m more of a provider. I’m more of a helper.”

DeCamillis further serves as president and CEO of the Denver Biz Tech Expo, an event he founded in 2011 through the Denver Technology Partners organization, which includes Platte River and other Colorado-based tech companies that favor cooperation over competition. They organized the first expo with the intent to attract customers, but demand for the event, DeCamillis said, proved much larger.

“So after year one, we opened it up to any and all technology providers,” he said.

 The event continues to grow. DeCamillis says he has revived some of his production aspirations through the expo, as its content and speakers must always be fresh and interesting. In addition, he performs a tech spot on a local TV news station.

“I don’t get paid for that, but I just love it. It’s fun,” he said. “The expo too – it’s not my day job. Platte River is my No. 1 priority, but to be able to enjoy those other things in life – that just makes life more fun, and I think it’s key and critical so that you enjoy it all.”

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