Focused Services That Stand Apart
From the moment he started his first business—an automotive marketing company in Illinois that eventually landed on the Inc. 500 list—at the age of 28, Bill Hamlin has become accustomed to success. His story is built upon the foundation of an entrepreneurial spirit bolstered by the intelligence and instincts to consistently develop winning products.
Hamlin leveraged his original company into five new car dealerships and three Used Car Superstores in Central Illinois before eventually selling all but one and moving to Southern California. After taking a hiatus for three years, Hamlin founded TEGA Technologies in 2005. The plan? To tap into previous core competencies and incorporate new visions with a software called CARMINE. After it took off initially, the market crash in 2008 caused a 60 percent drop in business.
TEGA reinvented itself with a robust digital and social media marketing platform called Chatterspot. While it launched into multiple verticals with success, the largest client emerged with a Verizon group in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, leading Hamlin to focus its application more intently on wireless retail. Once he decided to mount his full effort behind Chatterspot, that direction meant moving the platform’s full-time management from Sioux Falls to Dallas.
“I moved everything to Dallas and it took us about six months to clean up the mess that was there—no process, no procedures, a lot of things were just off kilter,” Hamlin said. “Good product, but it needed a lot of help. We went through that cleanup process for about six months, and it became more and more evident to me that I had hitched to the right wagon—this was a good product. But I was asking myself, ‘Is this product as good as I think it is, or am I just getting drunk on my own wine here?’”
Hamlin decided he needed the perspective of an outside consultancy and reached out to Deloitte, but TEGA’s size and budget weren’t a good fit at that stage. He was referred to a pair of companies, MCG in Dallas and another in Oklahoma. After interviewing Cary Mailandt, a partner in MCG’s Consulting Services group, he decided on the local firm—a move that paid massive dividends almost immediately after MCG dug into every aspect of TEGA’s operations.
“My main question to them when I hired them in part was, ‘Is this thing as good as I think it is, or am I crazy? If so, what should we do with it? I’m thinking that we should raise money to try and grow it,’” Hamlin said. “Cary told me, ‘Bill, that’s the last thing you should do. You’ve got yourself a goldmine and you just need to get out and sell. You’ve got something really special here.’”
In fact, Mailandt was so impressed with Chatterspot that he offered to make a small investment in TEGA. Hamlin agreed to the offer and asked Mailandt to serve on a newly formed advisory board, which he accepted, to begin a hugely beneficial partnership that has evolved well beyond the original client-vendor relationship. Following Mailandt’s direction and with the addition of his recommendations to the advisory board, TEGA’s business grew 300 percent in the next year.
“It’s interesting because he’s definitely the ringleader of my advisory board for sure,” Hamlin said. “He’s the one everyone looks to and he carries a lot of respect. It’s been a wonderful trend and he continues to bring us good wisdom and insight from his perspective on things. He’s as honest as you’ll ever find, he’s not afraid to tell you what he thinks, but does it in a way that’s acceptable. I have nothing but incredible respect for him. Now, our team works on how to grow it and capitalize on opportunities.”
“MCG has proven to be a perfect fit for TEGA, so much so that Hamlin now uses the firm for tax and accounting services, even as the consulting has concluded.”
One of the first opportunities TEGA needed to explore was expansion beyond their market leadership in wireless. Mailandt and his team conducted a thorough analysis of other verticals that best fit the product, an area they continue to explore while solidifying their primacy over wireless applications.
“There’s not a business, company or organization that couldn’t use our software, so really it becomes a question of where’s the highest and best use for it,” Hamlin said. “So he did some analysis to help us not only showcase some of those industries, but really gave us a roadmap on what to run that business through to figure out if it’s a good thing or not. You get opportunities thrown your way and there are so many places you can take it. It’s easy to get distracted, but we’ve been very focused on the right vertical and that’s been really helpful.”
Additionally, Mailandt’s faith in TEGA’s products gave Hamlin the extra boost to jump in with both feet. “One of the biggest things that I got out of it… just his enthusiasm toward it and his willingness to invest,” Hamlin said. “One of the things I need as an entrepreneur is just validation, and that was probably the single biggest thing that I got out of it. He helped crystalize a lot of things that needed to be crystalized.”
With a highly scalable product now growing organically, Hamlin and the advisory board envision global expansion and, ultimately, the ability to build a billion-dollar company. MCG has proven to be a perfect fit for TEGA, so much so that Hamlin now uses the firm for tax and accounting services, even as the consulting has concluded.
“Creating an advisory board has eliminated the need for outside consulting,” Hamlin said. “I was very impressed that even though Cary could have remained a consultant and created additional revenue for him and his company, that was not the way he operated. He (Mailandt) was very transparent… I was just really pleased and pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t all about the dollars, because it could have very easily been. He and the firm are not self-serving at all.
“He’s no nonsense, he’s honorable and I can’t see us going anywhere else. I trust him and I trust MCG.”