Patrick Kinsella
Chapter 2

How 1Path Evolved into a Multifaceted MSP

Patrick Kinsella’s roots as a technology entrepreneur go all the way back to 2001. That year, fresh out of college, he started a business with a friend: offering wireless internet to college students for $18 a month. While the venture was relatively short lived, it sparked a passion that he still carries today.

Now, he’s SVP and Chief Technology Officer at 1Path, a full-service MSP with a reach that spans an impressive number of clients and verticals. This is the story of how he helped turn 1Path into the multifaceted MSP it is today using his entrepreneurial spirit and strategic know-how.

A brief overview of Patrick’s—and 1Path’s—beginnings

After selling his wireless internet business, Patrick started his career in earnest doing SAP implementations for large enterprises in healthcare and financial services. Helping these companies navigate their technology made a profound impression on him. It showed him just how much of an impact he could make with his guidance and attention.

After a few years, he joined the semiconductor industry while simultaneously completing his MBA part-time. Once he graduated, he knew he wanted to get back into the more traditional technology service provider space. In 2011, that opportunity arrived when Patrick joined Endeavor Telecom, a business that deployed its partners’ managed IT solutions into retail, QSR, and financial services markets across North America. Eventually, Endeavor shifted its focus when it found new opportunities in the security space that converged with traditional IT and physical security needs.

By 2014, Endeavor merged with a company called Onepath Systems (now 1Path). At the time, Onepath Systems was a construction firm doing low voltage contracting for general contractors in Southeast American markets. Eventually, the company purchased an MSP in Georgia called Blue Wave Computing. This was the point at which the 1Path of today truly began its journey to a full-service MSP with a spectrum of offerings.

1Path, two areas of growth

According to Patrick, there have been two primary areas of maturation at 1Path. The first is focusing on a set of core values. “When you come from an entrepreneurial culture, there's always a vision that drives the business,” he says. “Once you reach a certain size and scale, however, you need to find a way to live by that vision and carry yourselves with that vision as a core part of your being.”

At 1Path, this vision is carried out via a set of employee-sourced core values that are communicated with the acronym IEAT: integrity, excellence, accountability, and teamworkThose four core values are at the heart of every activity that the company engages in, from how they hire and train employees to how they interact with clients and decide which prospects to do business with.

“We’re in a fortunate position where we can choose to do business with clients whose values align with ours,” says Patrick. “Frankly, in a service business, you have to be smart about who you're willing to serve, because it truly is a partnership.” And when core values aren't aligned, it can be a recipe for disaster.

The second area of maturation has been acknowledging that technology has no real spatial boundaries. In other words, 93% of IT incidents can be solved remotely, and IT talent can come from anywhere—not necessarily from within 1Path’s core markets in the Southeastern United States and New England.

Being able to tap into a talent base that spans all 50 states while serving partners in its geographic target market has forced 1Path’s business to mature. Much of the team has been remotely distributed since before COVID, which has required more streamlined processes and communication.

Homing in on strategy

While traditional MSPs tend to focus on a narrow subset of customers and verticals, 1Path’s goal has been lofty from the beginning. By bringing different organizations from a number of verticals and specialties together, Patrick, along with the rest of 1Path’s leadership team, has been able to offer a unique portfolio of services that can be easily digested by traditional IT buyers. “It was important to us to make the investments that would help us define our target market, the size of our business, and our target verticals,” says Patrick.

This also meant being strategic about what 1Path’s reference architecture was going to be and what technologies the team would support. By standardizing this, 1Path’s clients get the benefit of focus; 1Path can manage security vulnerabilities on a grander scale rather than having to pick and choose from a greater umbrella of technology solutions. This takes as much risk out of the equation as possible by providing some operating scale.

With all this talk of scale, has 1Path become a large, impersonal MSP to its clients? Actually, it’s quite the opposite. “We're organized as a group of small MSPs aggregated together, so that our clients get that small team experience,” says Patrick. “They're talking to the same group of engineers. They're talking to the same client executive. They're able to build that relationship with a core group of a handful of folks that know their business, know their accounts, know their personalities, know their needs.”

This benefit is a stark contrast to what most MSPs can provide. Smaller businesses lack the benefit of scale, in terms of the number of engineers, thought leaders, and experience in different technologies, spanning different industries. “The reason we have that knowledge is because of our experience in other markets,” says Patrick. “We can take cyber security solutions that were designed with large enterprises in mind and bring the pricing model, operations model, and delivery model to help SMBs do the same thing.”

Today, 1Path has over 200 engineers who are skilled across a breadth of technology within the company’s reference architecture. Being able to offer that to any one of 1Path’s clients gives SMBs the enterprise-level experience they wouldn’t be able to access otherwise.

Facing challenges head on

By being intentional about growth, core values, talent, and operating practices, 1Path has landed on a formula that works exceptionally well for SMBs. “Our best customers are organizations that view IT as a utility and as a resource and not simply as a line item or something that can be cut,” says Patrick. “We’re trying to align with organizations that do view technology as an avenue to do their business better.”

Having this alignment and vision from the beginning has allowed Patrick and his team to get through challenging times with grace. “When COVID hit, we had to decide very quickly how we would transition employees to a safer working environment,” says Patrick. “We basically had one weekend to decide how we would make folks comfortable working from home, how we would get them the technology they needed, how we could offer flexibility for our own people.”

Because they had done such a good job of sticking to their core values, Patrick’s team was ready for it. “It was definitely a challenge, but we had the willingness to accelerate our planning and get it done so that we could focus on helping our clients,” says Patrick. Additionally, the cybersecurity landscape changed very quickly during this time. No one was on a controlled network anymore, the number of fake phishing emails were on the rise beginning as early as April. While it was important that they move fast, they also had to act with care.

Staying on the right path

Overall, getting through challenging times like these has only confirmed for Patrick that his early vision is paying off. “Our team has grown into a high-performing group, and it's beyond rewarding to see.”

To Patrick, great leadership is about rolling up your sleeves and setting an example. “It’s important that team members see that their leaders are willing to climb in the trenches and experience service delivery and be in front of stakeholders,” he says. “You learn so much more about the client needs and the needs of your employees this way—about what makes them tick, what they're looking for, what drives them to feel satisfaction in their work. If you can't find joy in doing that, you're probably in the wrong career.”

Looking to the future, Patrick knows that with thousands of MSPs competing within core target markets, the landscape is hyper competitive. For Patrick, the main concern is continuing 1Path’s growth trajectory in a way that lets them invest in their people. “I love being able to help someone expand beyond their perceived skill set,” he says. “As long as we’re growing our client base and also allowing our employees to grow, I’ll consider it a success.”

To learn more about 1Path and see if they're the right strategic fit for your IT service needs, you can reach out here.

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Amplify your strategy with tips & advice from The Rockstars of MSP

These MSP leaders embarked on their path from varying starting points, and whether their level-up came through serendipity or paving the way with set intentions, you'll hear firsthand how each leader faced challenges and the moves they made to get them where they are today. Some topics that will be highlighted are strategy, values, verticalization, employee happiness, and efficiency for customer satisfaction. Each chapter highlights a different MSP leader's perspective and helps us understand there is more than one way to the top — and even when you think you're there, keep climbing.

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