There are a lot of advantages working for a Fortune 50 company. Mark Schnitzius experienced those benefits every day as a Marketing Supervisor in UPS’ Information Technology division.
But he also saw the drawbacks, and wondered if there was a better way to make a personal impact on his clients.
Schnitzius (BSBA ’99) left the state-of-the-art surroundings of a global corporation for a small bedroom in Orange Park, Fla., to find the answer. His boldness led him down a rewarding path resulting in iVenture Solutions, an IT management services organization that has been recognized for its ingenuity and customer satisfaction.
Schnitzius’ major goal in starting iVenture, along with high school friend and fellow UF grad Gray Mabry (BSTEL ’00), was to provide small businesses the same level of security and resources large companies enjoy, but with a personal touch.
“In enterprise, customer support is pretty poor,” Schnitzius said. “We felt we could be more transparent in how we deliver our services.”
iVenture manages the technology needs of small businesses, which is an often overlooked and underappreciated aspect of owning and operating a small business. iVenture, which serves more than 130 clients throughout Florida, provides numerous services including monitoring, installing updates, offering remote and online support, providing security, performing regular backups to avoid data loss and providing private cloud access.
Offering and managing a bevy of services is only half of the equation, however. Making sure the owner is involved in the process is what distinguishes iVenture.
“A lot of times IT never gives the owner a chance to make a decision for the company, which can lead to a lot of miscommunication,” Schnitzius explained. “Something we’ve always truly believed in is to make sure the owner has the opportunity to say yes or no.”
iVenture’s ascent wasn’t meteoric; it was slow and steady. Schnitzius said the company gained business mostly through word of mouth and referrals.
“We were more concerned with our standards, quality control and delivery of service than how fast we grew,” Schnitzius said.
That slow climb made the company’s first few years difficult, but helped lay the foundation for a solid plan and client base.
“It was an exciting time,” said Schnitzius, of iVenture’s beginning. “Every customer we gained, every problem we solved was an accomplishment. We didn’t know how to do everything, but we learned.
“We worked 100 hours a week those first three years. Building a business is about how much effort you put into it, and we never really focused on anything but work. We never thought about failure.”
Relaying the significance of a strong work ethic will be one of Schnitzius’ main messages when he visits today with Warrington students during the College’s Alumni Café series.
“People that succeed, people that have done something that you’re in awe of,” said Schnitzius, “the commonality is hard work. It’s really that simplistic. You can build your small business into whatever you want it to be, but no one is going to give you anything. You have to work for it.”