Brett Curtis combines decades-long IT experience with Midwest customer service values in his company, Mountain Dream IT. The philosophy is simple but profound in today's always-on-hold tech support world: Be nice, be available, and patiently help people solve technology challenges.
Mountain Dream IT offers in-person and remote tech support for businesses of all sizes, with special appreciation from small companies who don't meet the typical IT firm's minimum size for monthly support.
Although there are often similarities, every business origin story is unique—from starting a nights-and-weekends side hustle that grows slowly but surely, to the diving-in-full-time-with-both-feet startup approach. What is the origin story for Mountain Dream IT?
BRETT CURTIS: I had a tech support business in Indianapolis, Indiana when another tech support business wanted to buy me out. I decided to sell that business, move to Colorado, get in shape and climb mountains.
As I was focusing on health and exercise, I met people who needed help with their IT problems out here. I already had experience with running a Tech Support company, but I hardly knew anyone in this town. So I just went for it - established the LLC and started networking and meeting other small business owners in my community.
How did you go about establishing your company's focus, and has the focus changed over time?
BRETT CURTIS: I found that smaller businesses (with less than a dozen or so employees) have problems finding an IT Support company that will even accept them as customers. A lot of my competition has a minimum number of computers they will support for a monthly subscription.
I realized that if I just focus on the people, it doesn't matter how many computers they have! I found a niche for businesses that are too small for a monthly subscribed service, and I ended up with the best customers. From small Mom & Pops to even some larger companies who don't want that monthly subscription charge.
You once made a comment about how by doing IT for organizations, you get to support their efforts. I'm paraphrasing, but I think that is such a cool philosophy on the impact your work can have. How did you arrive at that perspective?
BRETT CURTIS: It was when I was doing IT work for a mechanic. I may be great with computers, but you certainly do not want me working on your car's engine. He had made a comment, "You must think I'm completely stupid" because he didn't know some common tech knowledge or something.
I told him, "I don't know how to rebuild a carburetor on a 1970 Mustang, but I'm not stupid." He responded, "Yeah, I guess we're all good at something." It takes a village to raise a village. We help better each other.
It takes a village to raise a village. We help better each other.
What advice would you give to your past self, knowing what you know now?
BRETT CURTIS: Market to your competition. It's not obvious, but it can be huge. What if you and your competitor only overlap on a few services? For example I don't do wiring, but I do website edits and updates. A competitor of mine does wiring, but nothing with websites. We refer each other for the non-overlapping services all the time.
What do you think sets your business or your approach apart from others in your space?
BRETT CURTIS: I don't work for a living - I go on quests! People will contact me for help with a problem or puzzle they need solved and I get to help them solve it. Basically, people pay me to have fun and I really appreciate that. It is possible their last tech wasn't enjoying their quest, which frankly makes a big difference in problem solving and customer service.
What is a skill you have that you don't consider a typical "résumé skill," but which has contributed to your success in a meaningful way?
BRETT CURTIS: I have a very outgoing sense of humor. It is somewhat rare for a tech to be extroverted, but here I am. Imagine your competition being described as weird, uncouth or unapproachable. I really enjoy working with people – no basement living for me!
Are there any tools or pieces of software that are must-haves in your toolkit for project management, communication, work efficiency, or organization?
BRETT CURTIS: Remote Management Software for connecting to people's computers remotely. Microsoft 365 is rather impressive for small businesses - I usually recommend that businesses host their entire company domain with Microsoft.
Have you ever experienced imposter syndrome during your career?
BRETT CURTIS: Not specifically, but early in my career I was certainly inexperienced and unsure of myself. I think that's normal and you eventually replace inexperience with experience and insecurity with confidence. You have to accept that being human prevents you from being perfect, so all we can really strive for is awesome.
How often do you get new ideas?
coming up with new ideas is a challenge
my brain is always overflowing with new ideas
How hard is it for you to follow through on your ideas and make them happen?
I have to force myself to follow through on things
I love carrying out tasks and completing things
What does your work-life balance look like right now?
I live at work!
I NEVER WORK
I struggle to sit down and get work done.
What’s the #1 thing you recommend outsourcing so that you can focus on the parts of your business that really light you up?
Wiring. It's not for me - crawling around in basements or ceilings, fishing wires through a wall - best to use someone else for that. As previously stated, I use a "competitor" for that. But they use me to help them on projects too – again don't forget to embrace your competition!
What’s your favorite non-work thing right now?
Hiking in the mountains. Mostly on the weekends, I've logged over 100 miles of amazing and beautiful trails this summer. I feel lucky.
CLOSING: Any other thoughts or tips you’d like to share with fellow business owners & entrepreneurs?
I think the toughest thing is figuring out how to get your stream of customers. It's all about marketing in the right place to the right people. And it isn't the same for every business or industry. The internet, word of mouth, even your competition can be a floodgate of referrals. Stay open and experiment.
Thank you, Brett, for sharing your perspective and advice!
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