It’s MY Island.
There is a scene in the classic movie Braveheart where the great William Wallace and his most loyal friend Hamish are chatting with a new ally, Stephen, who takes great pride in his roots.
Stephen: Stephen is my name. I am the most wanted man on my island…except I’m not on my island, of course. More’s the pity.
Hamish: “Your island”? You mean Ireland?
Stephen: Yeah. It’s mine.
Hamish: You’re a madman.
Stephen: [nods and starts laughing, then Hamish does as well] I’ve come to the right place then.
This scene reminds me of the great pride our company and our growing employee base has for our corporate New Hampshire headquarters, notably our renaissance city of Manchester, NH. Many “Live Free or Die” outsiders find us a bit obsessive (and often times defensive), but when trying to build a culture and community aimed at talent retention, recruitment and technology innovation in a place known primarily for summer vacations and ski resorts, is there any other way to act?
We’re hiring like mad and acquiring new customers like crazy and want everyone who joins us to buy in: hardcore. Even Wired Magazine has taken notice of late, calling Manchester an Emerging Epicenter for Information Technology. We like to think we’re playing a small part in that and that’s why we recently had to take our city’s technology back.
About a month ago, a member of our growing enterprise sales team made a disappointing discovery. Our very own city government was being used as a reference customer on the site of our arch-nemesis out of Virginia. They are the Yankees to our Red Sox. They are the 800-pound gorilla and the pink elephant in the room at the same time. It was a slap in the face and a shame on us at the same time. It needed to be rectified and fast. How could we make the pitch that we were the best managed DNS provider in the world and not even have our own city using our tech?
You see, this competitor is everything we are not. They are a publicly traded massive revenue organization and needless to say, their approach is very different. Candidly, we have them to thank for creating the enterprise market for DNS services. As we evolved from a consumer/SMB focus, these guys paved the way and created a premium market. We did everything we possibly could to mirror their success and everything we possibly could to take advantage of where they were weak. We’ve clawed tooth and nail to differentiate ourselves and offer choice and thus when we saw ‘The City of Manchester, New Hampshire’ listed as a featured customer, we needed to get to work.
Protecting our Turf
As you can imagine, we have many connections with the city, so it was just a matter of what angle we wanted to play. We decided that a direct path to the current Mayor with the help of former Manchester Mayor Bob Baines (who happens to be the former high school principal of a few of us and the soon-to-be father-in-law of one of our great sales reps, Brent Hale) would be the best approach.
We sent along some Dyn fun facts and scheduled a meeting with current Mayor Ted Gatsas and the technical team responsible for their infrastructure. Here is a peek of what we presented:
Notes for the City of Manchester
• About Dyn
• Local Manchester-based company with a 12-year history
• In the past two years, we’ve added over 50 local jobs
• Currently employ 75 locals with plans to add an additional 25 this calendar year
• We’ve provided downtown Manchester with free DynWifi wireless service for years
• We employ three “Union Leader 40-Under-40” employees (Tom Daly, CTO; Jeremy Hitchcock, CEO; Gray Chynoweth, VP of Business Operations & General Counsel) and many future ones.
• Tom Daly is Board Chairman of the NH High Tech Council, which Dyn has sponsored. Tom grew up in Manchester and graduated from Memorial High
• Jeremy Hitchcock is currently on the board of the NH Community College System. Jeremy grew up in Bedford and graduated from West High
• Gray Chynoweth was an original founder of the Manchester Young Professional Network (MYPN) and Board Chairman for Stay Work Play NH, which Dyn has sponsored
• Kyle York, VP of Sales, is on the Board of the abi Innovation Hub (formerly Amoskeag Business Incubator), which Dyn has sponsored. Kyle grew up in Bedford and graduated from West High. His family has owned and operated downtown business Indian Head Athletics for decades
• Matt Toy, Director of Marketing is also on the board of the abi Innovation Hub
• Josh Delisle, Director of Sales, is a committee member of the NH Start Up Challenge, which Dyn has sponsored
• Various members of the technical staff have volunteered with the Manchester West High School US FIRST team
• Many staff members grew up here, attended school here and now call the Queen City home
• The company’s global HQ is downtown moving from 1230 Elm St. to a new 24,000 square foot home at 150 Dow Street this summer
Equally Obsessed and Full of Pride
The best part about all of this is that the Mayor’s office took this far more seriously than we anticipated. I had challenged the team with a personal prize for whomever rectified this terrible situation and Brent dove in aggressively, earning himself a meal at one of Manchester’s finest restaurants, the Hanover Street Chophouse. Make no mistake, he cared but the steak helped. Work hard, play hard.
I personally ran into Mayor Gatsas (seen here) after our meeting and he looked me dead in the eyes and promised swift action. He was actually embarrassed that this happened under his watch. I had to reassure him that it was more the principle of the thing than the entry-level contract they’d engage in with us, but we just wanted to make them aware.
The city sent a certified digital and hard copy letter to our competitor (who they hadn’t even used since 2006!) and respectfully asked them to remove their name from the site. It’s a great letter.
Action has yet to be taken, but we’re confident it will come down soon enough. We have even pinged our senior-level contacts over there (we have solid industry relationships) and made a connection on their live chat about the placement. The joke’s over. Nice try, guys. The city will jump on our Dynect Platform shortly.
Obviously, posting the city of Manchester as a client was done to get under our skin as we are a pain in the side of this competitor, ie the ankle biters or the kid brother who won’t go away. It didn’t work. It inspired us even more to take on the establishment and work even harder to take a complacent industry by storm. We’re now even more obsessed than ever.
It’s OUR island.