10 years of Venture Tech Network

You have to hand it to Ingram Micro and the many, many solution providers in Canada and the United States that have made the Venture Tech Network (VTN) program such a success.

This organization, which has about 70 solution provider members in Canada, has the purchasing power of a $2.5 billon organization. In Canada, this collective group of resellers would rival Softchoice in revenue.

I’m at the 10th Anniversary edition of the VTN Conference, held in San Diego. The conference is called One Voice and while the group wants to celebrate the past it has its focus squarely on the future.

Kirk Robinson, Ingram Micro’s VP of North American marketing, said in his keynote address that collaboration and opportunity will set this group apart from other competitors in the market place and enable them to not only survive in these tough economic times but also thrive.

How will they go about doing this? Robinson said VTN will work on shoring up member businesses against risk, helping them find the successful best practices and aggressively pursue target markets.

Also, he will strongly encourage VTN members to start marketing.

At a technology fair last night Ingram Micro introduced nine money making solutions engineered by Ingram’s solution centre and many other vendor partners. Look for more on that in a future issue of CDN Now.

Current VTN presidents JoeAnne Hardy of Saskatoon’s WBM and Greg Starr of I.T. Works told the packed audience some of their special moments from the previous VTN meetings.

For Hardy, her favourite meeting was one she did not attend. Two WBM executives went to Hollywood for a VTN meeting expecting a boondoggle and instead became overwhelmed with the possibilities of sharing best practices and partnering for new business. She said it was like “a light bulb come on.”

Starr’s favourite moment came during the first VTN meeting in Austin, Tex. Starr and a colleague drove five hours to make the meeting. Both men where wondering why they were even making the trip because they did not see the value. But the two decided to go and ask each person at the event what benefits they got from VTN. Starr was surprised to be talking about all the benefits for five hours on the trip back home.

The Canadians made for many funny moments at previous VTN shows. The Canadian contingent, for example, produces funny videos parodying SCTV’s Great White North skit and the Survivor reality show. They became such classics that the American solution providers tried to steal the video for 2004’s VTN conference. But Naomi Carmichael of OnDeck Systems Inc. of Victoria, B.C. came to the rescue and saved the day by making a second copy. The video was a spoof of the Six Million Dollar Man TV show.

You have to give credit to founders such as Steve Harper, Ted Warner and Canadians Peter McMahon, Doran Kaminski, JoeAnne Hardy, Don Conaby and Carmichael.

VTN is one of the reasons why the IT channel community is so great compared to other industries. The VTN program was able to get several hundred companies, many of which compete with each other, together. They partner for the benefit of each other. The task of getting all those companies and people together to work on and support each other’s business in this day and age where everyone eats their young in business is nothing short of a miracle.

Three quick hits before I go. I got a call from Ross Pellizzari, former Canadian channel chief for Cisco. He said that the decision to leave the company was mutual, which dispels all those rumours on the street. Pellizzari has started his own consulting company and is looking to partner with a systems integrator.

Meanwhile at Cisco Canada, the subsidiary has cut its list of potential replacement for Ross down to two.

Long time president of CompTIA John Venator has left the organization. Todd Thibodeaux will take over for him. Thibodeaux spent the last 17 years with the Consumer Electronics Association. Venator was the face of CompTIA and CDN wishes him the best. John I hope you are enjoying yourself in Mexico.

The entire staff at CDN also wants to pass along best wishes and a speedy recovery to Robert Buren of Microsoft Canada and formerly of CMS Consulting.

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