Our latest featured local entrepreneur is Dan Armstrong of Beanfield Metroconnect, the largest independent fibre-optic network in Toronto. Dan started the company when he was only 15 selling telecommunications services to commercial customers and has evolved over the years to fit the market.
We had a chance to chat with Dan about his success.
What is your business called and what does it do?
Our business is Beanfield Metroconnect.
We were born selling telecommunications services to commercial customers, but have recently branched out to selling residential Internet and TV to a number of condominiums in downtown Toronto.
What made you want to do this work?
I started the company when I was 15 years old, I have never actually had a job. I was so infuriated at how terrible the incumbent phone company was to deal with, I decided to do something about it.
What problem does this solve?
Consumers are used to gimmicks and stressing out when it comes to dealing with their telecom provider. We wanted to humanize telecom and provide a product that people trust and feel comfortable with up front. Not to mention services that are speedy and reliable. We have re-established the way customer service is done by putting the customer in the forefront.
Back when I started Beanfield, big telecoms were a serious threat to innovation because they were too slow. It was the independent companies around at the time that helped the Internet flourish, not the big old legacy telecoms.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
On the commercial side, we service a very wide demographic. Everything from individually run small businesses, to mom and pop shops, right up to Fortune 500 companies, banks, financial institutions, and large legal firms. We are also the go-to telecom supplier for the screen industries (VFX, television, post production etc.), DotComs, and emerging FinTech companies.
Our residential customers are the downtown Toronto condo-dwelling set. Mostly millennials from what we can tell.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
We charge a monthly fee for Internet access, phone service, private lines, etc.
Where in Toronto can we find your profession?
Our services are available in downtown Toronto in both residential and commercial buildings. You can search for your residential or commercial building by postal code on our website at www.beanfield.com to see if service is available to you.
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services?
“Do you resell over somebody else’s infrastructure or do you own your own infrastructure?”
The answer is we own our own infrastructure end-to-end, and do not resell like the myriad of resellers in this market. This means we have complete control over quality of service, something you won’t find with the resellers.
What is the best part about what you do? What is the worst part?
We feel Beanfield is able to democratize telecommunications by taking it out of the hands of the large monopolies. It’s a great feeling.
I always tell our staff that we’re not in the telecom business, we’re in the hospitality business. The customer and their needs are at the centre of everything we do. Imagine you’re running a hotel or restaurant when interacting with customers. It’s a much more fulfilling way to run a business.
It can be challenging to work with different management levels in the buildings we operate in, but it reminds us to focus on what’s important, our customers and putting them first.
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
A diet high in fibre keeps ‘things’ moving.
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto business that you love?
Too many to name just one: Porter Airlines, Allied Properties, York Heritage Properties, Dandylion restaurant, Montgomerys Restaurant, Grey Gardens, Fahrenheit coffee, and Long & McQuade.