How to be a Hero

Speaker Feature: Michael Rothman, CEO, SMS Assist (Chicago)

By    |   April 10, 2017, 3:56 pm EDT

In 2016, Mike Rothman received Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and his company, SMS Assist, received a valuation of $1B.

The award celebrated his almost fourteen years as chairman and CEO of SMS Assist and over 25 years of experience in industrial service. During his tenure, he has transformed SMS Assist from a traditional brick and mortar service into an advanced technology company with mobile and cloud-based facilities maintenance platforms. As a result, SMS Assist has become one of the most innovative technology players in the multisite property management space.

For any business, the quest to raise capital is a critical and often challenging one. This is one area where Mike Rothman has no shortage of experience. Rothman bootstrapped the company during its early growth years, and in 2011, the elite Pritzker Group Venture Capital firm invested $17M. It proved to be the first of many powerful infusions of capital for the company. In 2013, PGVC invested an additional $45M, after which SMS Assist launched their first mobile app and successfully entered the residential services market. In 2016, Goldman Sachs Investment Partners brought in the largest single investment to date, a Series-D round of $150M at a valuation of $1B.

Christopher Dawe, co-head of the venture capital and growth equity team at Goldman Sachs, which invested in Uber, Facebook, Pinterest and Spotify, said, “This investment is consistent with our philosophy of seeking exceptional teams that are applying technology to make industries more efficient. SMS Assist’s ability to deliver tangible savings to both customers and service providers is a testament to its technology platform and operational expertise, and fits with our broader view that ‘managed’ marketplaces are disrupting incumbent players.”

SMS Assist’s clients now include a growing list of national and Fortune 500 companies including JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Family Dollar (NYSE: FDO), Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated (NYSE: JLL), O’Reilly Automotive, Inc. (NASDAQ: ORLY) and Colony Starwood Homes (NYSE: SFR). The company has won multiple awards, including the Chicago Innovation Award for its advanced technology platform, and Moxie Awards for Best Enterprise Web Company. It’s also well on its way of meeting its stated goal of servicing one million unique locations.

The company’s history is similarly remarkable. SMS Assist literally started from the ground up – it began as a floor care company. Under Rothman’s leadership, it embraced technology and launched its first proprietary technology platform, Service Track, in 2005. In 2008, it was awarded a national small box retail account, and in 2009, SMART Facilities Services merged with SMS Assist adding the Facilities department. Throughout this time, SMS continued expanding their offerings to include snow and ice management, landscaping, and parking lot maintenance. In 2014, SMS Assist successfully entered the residential service market and was awarded over 20,000 single-family rental (SFR) locations.

Today, SMS Assist connects 20,000 service subcontractors and 500,000 technicians to more than 140,000 locations around the U.S, giving it incredible economies of scale in almost every U.S. city. And it’s not Rothman’s only claim to fame: he is a serial entrepreneur of sorts, and always in the industrial services industry. One of his businesses was sold to Waste Management, and another, Kenny Industrial Services, made several acquisitions, and then reincorporated under the name K2 Industrial. With his wealth of startup technology experience, expertise in raising capital, and sustained high growth business, you can expect insight and stimulating discussion from Mike Rothman at Techweek’s Growth Summit in Chicago.


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