This Frederick Review interview is with Matt Swallop. Matt is the owner of 1-UP IT Consulting. 1-UP IT Consulting provides businesses the ability to effectively utilize technology in the workplace with specialization in end-to-end design, installation, management, support, and networking for IT systems. To learn more about Matt and 1-UP It Consulting, visit their website at www.1upitconsulting.com
So, Matt, I’m just gonna turn it over to you. Why don’t you kind of fill in the gaps there? Tell us about you and your business?
Matt: So, I’m Matt Swallop. I’m the owner and the senior network engineer for the company. We are an IT consulting company, and we specialize in networking and IT systems for companies of really any size. We’ll help businesses that have three, four, five people. We’ll help businesses that are much, much larger even up to government contracts. So, we provide that service for really companies of any size.
Is there a reason that you go big and small? I mean, I’m sure there are some people that decide to go only big, or some people go only small. Was there a strategy? Or do you just kind of decide based on comfort?
Matt: No. So, I have experience in everything. I’ve worked for some of the very, very, very large companies. I was supporting multiple remote sites along with a large campus as the network engineer. But I also, when I started this business, we started out small. So it was just myself, and I started helping out small businesses and a couple of medium-sized businesses, things like that. But we do basically anything, you know, as small as you want. If you just want someone to come in and help you set up your Internet with a couple laptops and secure network, we’ll do that. I have no problem doing that. We love that.
But then we also have very large contracts where we also support pretty big companies with their big projects. We had a project on Fort Detrick that was very successful. So, we support, basically companies of any size. Doesn’t matter if, you know, you have one switch in your network, or 30 switches and some routers. You know, we’ll do it all.
Cool. So, when did you start 1-UP Consulting? And what made you want to make the jump and start your own thing?
Matt: Yeah. We started in September of 2015, so we’ve been going for a little over three years. In that time, I brought on three additional employees. The reason I started this company was, I used to work for some bigger companies, and during that time, I’d spend my spare time and I’d write business plans on different companies I wanted to…or different ideas I had for starting a company. I’ve always had that intrigue. That interest in doing something on my own. That’s always been there at the heart of everything I’ve done. So, I finally actually decided to branch out, and it was one of the best decisions of my life.
That’s awesome! So, I think you might have alluded to it may be a little bit before. But your business, what kind of sets you guys apart? I mean, I don’t really know the context of your market, so to speak, or your competitors. But, I mean, is there something that helps you guys, or are there some other things that kind of set you apart? Maybe it’s just the talent on your team.
Matt: One of the things that we’ve always strived for is we like to be an extension of your company. So, when you call us up, we’re not some random person behind a phone that you never talked to. Some companies, you know, you call up and you’ve never spoken to this person. They’re helping you through an IT issue. That’s not us. We are consultants to you. So, you know all of us. You know us personally. And we try to make it so that we have a connection with all of our clients. I get along with all of our clients. You know, we wanna be able to take them out and make it so that it’s not just…we’re just a random company helping you out.
You build a relationship.
Matt: Yeah. We thrive with that. That’s been really one of the biggest things for our company here.
You’re not just, like, robocalling people and stuff like that.
Matt: Exactly. Yeah. We’re not like a 5, 10-person help desk that’s just sitting there picking up calls and helping with issues. You know who we are. You’ve seen us. You, you know, basically think of as, you know, us working for your company.
Right. That’s probably super helpful in your industry in particular because, I mean, you may know better than me. But I feel like technology for a lot of people is, like, a real core of frustration. So, the moment they have to get on the phone with anybody, they’re already at this level that, you know… Sometimes it might feel like walking into an ambush if you’re the person on the end of that line. So I feel that your approach maybe counteracts it a little bit?
Matt: Yeah. And that’s only, you know, one part of what we do, which is, you know, supporting the companies IT issues. But they also reach out to us. We work on big projects. So, you know, we come out to their site, and we help them design their network. We help them set it up, implement it, and manage it, and then support it afterwards.
That’s fantastic. So let’s look at three years ago. If you could go back, what’s a piece of advice you’d give yourself?
Matt: So, my advice to myself would be to tell myself that I can do it. There was definitely some confidence issues at first. You have to build confidence, and that was a big challenge, especially when starting a consulting company when you were the expert.
Matt: To have that confidence to do that. That was one of the things I struggled with at first before I started the company, and really building that with inside myself, and knowing I could do it.
I mean, a little off the beaten path here but, in my personal life I coach youth sports and I totally get what you’re saying. Same thing. I mean, there’s always that insecurity that everyone has about what they are doing in a position of leadership, you know, but it’s just kind of working through that and kind of understanding…I know what helps me is knowing that everyone feels that way at times, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.
What’s your favorite thing? As you’ve grown your company, what’s been your favorite thing about it?
Matt: So, I really like that we get to help people even though they’re just, you know, businesses, but we’re helping people with their problems. But I’d say the biggest thing is I do really like creating jobs, and that’s what I’ve been able to do so far with having three employees on my staff, some of them being my close friends and some of them being people I’ve never met before. And I really take that personally, and that means a lot to me that I can do that.
Yeah. I mean, there’s something, you know, noble about being able to create jobs that I think… I mean, it’s something that I can’t relate to, but I think it’s really hard for people to really understand the kind of the sacrifices that need to be made for stuff like that. So, that’s really great. Toughest thing. What’s the hardest thing for you?
Matt: So, I really struggle with the uncertainty of tomorrow. You never know what’s going to happen. We could lose big contracts tomorrow. We could lose big clients tomorrow. You never know. And it’s a struggle when you know that you have to support your employees and making sure that they always have a job. And that’s one of my biggest goals is for my employees to come first. You know, I want to make sure that I’m always there for them and they always have a job with us. It gives you a lot of anxiety when you, you know, you just don’t know what could happen tomorrow.
Well, I mean, you sound like a great boss, so it seems like you’re handling it well.
Matt: Thank you.
So, right now, what’s the number one way that you acquire customers, contracts, clients?
Matt: Yeah. Right now, our number one method is referrals. So, when we have a client, we hope that they refer us to other businesses. When your small businesses talk to other small businesses. So, it’s all about building that. When someone likes you, it’s all about getting that word out.
I’m laughing at myself because I have my questions here, and I didn’t really look down on it until just now. Feels silly to ask this question, but I’m going to because I think it’s kind of funny. My ninth question was, how has technology played a role in your business?
Matt: I’ll say this. You know, yeah, we are a technology company, but one of the things I would like to point out is we just launched our new website this summer.
Oh very cool.
Matt: Our website prior to that was a little basic since it was just made at the time. We didn’t have anything… It wasn’t like I wasn’t at that step where I need this big awesome website. We just launched (the new website). It’s got all of our information on it. It’s got a lot of information about what we do, all the services we provide. And this year, with the help of Rick, who you spoke with, launched our social media sites.
So, we’ve been using our social media sites to help promote us and to show that, “Hey, these are the things that we do. Here are some tips.” We do a lot of tech tips on there. And we show some of the things that we do with the community. Rick’s been trying to get us more involved with just community events in general.
That’s awesome. When you said the thing about, you know, when you first started the website it was a little bare bone. I’d imagine it’s something that’s probably like you’re working so hard on everyone else’s stuff with your clients that you have no time to feed yourself sort of thing?
Matt: Yeah, exactly.
Yeah. That’s funny. Okay. What is the best piece of advice that you would give others, you know, thinking about getting into IT or maybe starting their own IT business? Just anything that you think is pertinent or important to know?
Matt: So, I’ll start off with… This is going to be corny, but it’s just like when I told myself, “You need to believe in yourself. You can do it.” I have a lot of friends that talk about wanting to start a business, and I’m there rooting for them. And it’s all about trying to build their confidence to tell them that they can do it because you can.
It’s a very difficult thing and it will bring you a lot of stress and anxiety, but you can do it. It is possible. I struggled with that. You know, I worked for some big companies, and we did a lot of great things. And when I finally set out on it and did it myself it was… You might get off to a slow start, but when it starts rolling, it’s exhilarating.
Matt: It is. It really is.
Matt: Knowing I get to work for myself… You gotta be able to work the long hours if you need to. I’m no stranger to 70-hour work weeks sometimes. I bring it on myself. But you have to…I would say, don’t ever turn down business. That’s my biggest thing because you don’t know if that business is gonna be there later, and that has led to some long work weeks for me, but it has always been worth it because it allowed me to expand as a company, and to branch out, and bring on more employees.
Awesome Matt. So, I don’t have any more questions. But, you know, I’m just gonna open the floor up to you. Is there anything else that you’d like to touch on or add that maybe my questions didn’t quite dig into. I’m just going to give you a plug here.
Matt: Well, I’ll just say if anybody wants to know our website, it’s 1upitconsulting.com. We’re on Twitter. We’re on Facebook. We’re on Instagram. It’s @1upitconsulting. I think in every location. I’m also on LinkedIn. You can find me at 1 UP ITConsulting or you can find me at Matt Swallop. My LinkedIn is for my company, but it goes into my background, and where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and it explains some of the companies I’ve worked for, and some of the things I’ve done, some of the things I specialize in.
But we will support companies of small all the way to large. We will do everything in the middle. We work on networking. We specialize in networking, and building, and designing networks for companies. We also design and build, you know, IT systems. So, your Windows Server environment, your VMware environment, your virtualized environments. We’ve worked on foreign systems. I have a big background in Cisco Unified Communications systems. Exchange. A lot of systems that we do support and we do help companies with, and we’d love to have your business.
I mean, I always love looking back after I do these quick interviews and seeing the amount of information that gets packed in. You know, it’s awesome. It’s really good. So, all that stuff was fantastic. And I…you did a lot better than I think you thought you were going do as our prior conversation beforehand. So, it was great all-around. It was awesome, Matt. I really appreciate it.
Matt: No, thank you. I appreciate it for you setting this up.
Hey, no problem!
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