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EarthLink’s Entrepreneurial Spirit is Alive and Well

It’s easy to feel like an entrepreneur when you just start out. That was certainly the case for EarthLink nearly 20 years ago, when we took the dial-up Internet market by storm. Times have certainly changed.

EarthLink remains a major presence in tech, and we continue to deliver dial-up and high-speed Internet to consumers nationwide. And as Mike Toplisek, EVP of Sales and Marketing at EarthLink alluded to in a recent Atlanta Tech Edge television interview, it’s surprising how many consumers still rely on dial-up Internet service in the U.S., as it actually accounts for about one-third of EarthLink’s consumer business. In reality, if dial-up was to become unavailable, some people in rural locations would be unable to receive Internet access at all!

That was then, this is now
While being associated with “dial-up Internet” may sound like a company stuck in the mud, via visionary leadership and a steady strategic plan, EarthLink has transformed, channeling the vast experience in our consumer Internet division to lead the way in business IT and communication services. “Given the high demand for what we’re doing, it’s been well worth the pursuit,” Toplisek notes.

“We saw an opportunity with the cloud computing movement and we jumped on it,” says Toplisek, who adds, “There’s a real demand out there. We see it every day: the need to outsource IT requirements including software as a service (SAAS), infrastructure as a service (IAAS), application management, and so on.”

Bigger isn’t always better
You’d think EarthLink might aim for the biggest business clients we can find. But we’d rather play in the space where there is the most need for added IT expertise.

“Yes, we have Fortune 500 customers, just as well as serve small businesses,” Toplisek attests, “but our target market is mid-market companies because they need us the most.” By mid-market, we’re talking from 100 to 5,000 employees spread across multiple locations.

“Many folks in the mid-market space have reached a point where their hardware or infrastructure is borderline end-of-life, meaning they’re facing fairly significant capital expenditures. A cloud-based IT solution could be a huge relief in terms of infrastructure and human capital,” Toplisek touts.

Has entrepreneurialism upped and left?
According to Atlanta Tech Edge, EarthLink has the reputation in town as a little company with an entrepreneurial spirit. Now that EarthLink is a $1.3 billion company, does that still hold true? In response, Toplisek admits, “It gets harder as you get bigger but it’s critical in our line of business to be forward thinking. We have to foster innovation for our customers.” Toplisek adds that “Encouraging entrepreneurism is integral to our core business values and something we reinforce every day.”

In closing, consider this shared mindset eloquently put by Levo League CEO and co-founder Caroline Ghosn. “Inside of a start-up, each and every person needs to think like an owner and an entrepreneur.” She encourages employees to ponder the question, “What would I do if I were running this company?”  She adds, “Getting each and every person comfortable with asking for forgiveness, not permission, allows the entire team to benefit synergistically from their talents.”

That’s the EarthLink we want to continue to be. A company hyper-focused on the customer experience, no matter the client’s size or industry, where our entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well.

About Pamela O'Connor

Pamela O'Connor
Pam O’Connor, Corporate Communications Manager for EarthLink, has more than a decade of proven marketing communications and public relations experience in corporate, non-profit and agency environments. As a marketing consultant, she’s advised clients ranging from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to SAS Institute. Pam is a recipient of the Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award recognizing innovative business practice in North Carolina. She earned her Master of Science from the London School of Economics and her BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is active in many philanthropic organizations, including Greyhound Rescue of North Carolina, The Wake County Autism Society, and PlayMakers Repertory Company.