Shawn Freeman is founder and CEO of TWT Group Inc.
What is TWT and what do you do?
Freeman: TWT Group is one of the fastest growing managed IT service companies in Calgary. We work with small to medium-sized businesses of all types, focusing our efforts on strategic planning of their business technology needs. We work in a collaborative nature with our clients to determine an IT plan that will eliminate the pain of IT from their organization and support them as they grow.
We also work with quite a few non-profit and charitable organizations. TWT is proud to support organizations such as Boys and Girls Club of Calgary and Kidsport. I believe one part of TWT’s success can be attributed to organizations such as these and we believe in giving back to our community.
The other part of why TWT is growing so fast is because we have an amazing culture and the very best people who care about helping others.
When, how and why was the company founded?
Freeman: TWT was founded in October of 2011. I noticed a gap in the managed servicing market, this gap being a service built on relationships. It began as myself working from my apartment and eventually, after a few years of pounding the pavement, we began hiring some of our first employees.
Now, eight years later, we are 20 people strong and still growing.
One simple goal I had when I started TWT was to make IT easy and approachable for users and caring more about the relationship than the technology.
What has business been like considering the economic challenges in the city in the last few years?
Freeman: TWT is very fortunate to be strongly rooted in technology and innovation. As the economy has seen its ups and downs in the past years, TWT has increasingly grown each year. Downturn and slowing economies are a catalyst for innovation and the perfect time to consider hiring an IT team such as ours.
TWT can work with you and your team to develop a plan so you know what to expect for costs as your company grows with the outlook of the economy. We can help you pick the best fit for software and hardware and open up partnership opportunities that only we can access.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced being an entrepreneur?
Freeman: In my past years with TWT, I have learned a lot of lessons as an entrepreneur, and I am constantly seeking mentorship and guidance from those around me. Perhaps the biggest challenge I have faced is developing and creating a business strategy for a business that is growing faster than I anticipated or planned for.
In some ways it is harder to forecast, predict, set goals and strategize in an industry that is constantly innovating and evolving. I have found that it’s challenging to balance our focus on delivering amazing customer service and to be continuously and rapidly innovating our internal systems and practices as well. At times we have had to slow our growth in order to maintain our high standards for customer service.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about being an entrepreneur?
Freeman: I believe what makes a business successful is twofold.
The first being culture. If you can’t create an environment that your team will not want to stand behind, your business will not succeed. By creating a positive culture you inspire all your employees to be cheerleaders for your business.
Second, and perhaps the most important, know your numbers. You need to understand how they work in regards to your cash flow and without cash flow, your business can quickly go under, and then the culture won’t quite matter.
Interviewed by Mario Toneguzzi, a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.