ORLANDO — For years, MSP tools like ConnectWise have built their business in large part on integrations with other tools, and those integrations have become even more important as they seek to become a more full MSP management tool, seeking to provide the proverbial “single pane of glass” for IT solution providers to work with their customers and manage their operations.
ConnectWise has taken that drive for integrations to the next level with the first ever “Tech Tank” competition, a campaign that saw 16 total entrants, from MSPs themselves to third-party tools, vie for up to $100,000 (U.S.) in investment from ConnectWise to build out their solution or integration. The competition was announced three months ago, and saw an MSP and an MSP consultant bring their heads together to come up with MySlice, a system to manage bonuses and commissions within ConnectWise
The idea started with David Wilkeson, CEO of MSP Advisor, who said he does “30 to 40 spreadsheets a month” for his MSP clients, and one of the common threads among them was managing commissions and bonuses.
“It’s a pain in the neck for us, and for an actual MSP trying to do it internally, it’s really tough,” Wilkeson said.
So Wilkeson teamed up with Jimmy Puckett, CEO of Spinen, an MSP that has its roots in application development, to come up with a way to automate the process and take it out of the spreadsheets and into ConnectWise.
Clearly, the pain Wilkeson felt resonated with attendees at this week’s Automation Nation event here, as their proof of concept for the software they call MySlice took first place and will now earn up to $100,000 to develop their product.
Wilkeson said he expects that getting these compensation details managed under ConnectWise will allow the average MSP to get back a fair bit of time from the operations or finance people today managing it manually.
Coming in second, and earning up to $50,000 for their efforts at integration, was YayPay, an accounts-receivable automation tool. The company works in a number of other business-to-business verticals, and sees an opportunity in the IT solution provider space, said Manoj Jonna, vice president of customer success at YayPay.
“This set of individuals has a distinct need for cash, but if they don’t get paid, you have chaos. And they’re good a ttheir core business, but collections and chasing after invoices was often a manual and difficult process,” Jonna said.
Coming in third place was MySelfServicePortal.com, which offers a proof of concept on, as its name suggests, a self-service portal for MSPs’ customers that integrates with ConnectWise. Ronny Tunfjord, product manager for MySelfServicePortal, said the area is of interest to MSPs and their customers, but is “a black hole for many solution providers out there.” The tool allows MSPs to define what their customers can do for themselves through ConnectWise, up to and including running authorized scripts in the ConnectWise environment.
April Taylor, vice president of ConnectWise Manage, said the Tech Tank competition was introduced to help “fuel entrepreneurship and innovation” in the ConnectWise ecosystem.
“We were looking for things that would improve our partners’ lives as a whole,” Taylor said. “Something that would help them do more and would fill gaps. The finalists his on some of our partners’ biggest pain points.”
The competition was open to anyone — partners themselves, providers of existing tools, and software developers. The only requirement was that the offering must integrate into ConnectWise, writing to the company’s APIs and SDKs.
All three will now get to work building out their solutions — and those solutions may be changed by their builders’ experience here at Automation Nation.
“I was talking to people for hours last night, and we got some feedback that will help shape [the solution],” said Wilkeson.
At the conference, ConnectWise chief product officer Jimmy Fulton announced that the contest will be run twice yearly going forward, with finalists at the spring Automation Nation and fall IT Nation events the company runs.