Having helped guide technology companies into rapid-growth orbit, Mike Harvath now assists smaller tech firms achieve liftoff at Revenue Rocket Consulting Group, his growth-strategy advisory firm in Bloomington.

Harvath, whose career, which reaches from Apple's early days, launched Revenue Rocket in 2001 as a way to give back to the industry in which hard work had brought him much success.

Consulting also keeps him connected to the familiar surge of excitement when a new strategy or offering propels a company to new heights.

"I get to live vicariously through my clients and see them grow and experience success and, for me, that's very satisfying," Harvath said. "Obviously, if you've been with one of the fastest-growing tech companies in history, you like the drug, you like the growth thing. It becomes part of your DNA."

Revenue Rocket offers consulting on growth strategy, buy-side mergers and acquisitions and channel partner development. Clients typically are tech services companies with $5 million to $50 million in sales. Harvath, having shared his thoughts here on such Twin Cities technology and software companies as Comm-Works, UnityWorks Media and Fishbowl Solutions, is a familiar name to readers of this column.

Revenue Rocket has worked with more than 300 companies in 10 countries, Harvath said. The company, which has three full-time employees and two contractors, has 20 active clients and projects $1.2 million in 2012 revenue. 

Harvath said he was pushing to reach 30 concurrent clients and $2 million in revenue next year. After investing in developing and automating processes and tools to apply Harvath's "mass-customized" consulting methodology, the company can scale up rapidly, he said.

"As an outside guy, I think I bring more to the table, advising, counseling and facilitating growth,'' Harvath said. "I just feel more at home in my own skin working with 20 or 30 or 40 different businesses all at the same time.''

Worked with the Steves

To build his niche, Harvath has focused on smaller tech companies and offered a subscription-type pricing model. While some engagements last years, no client has to stay more than 30 days.

"We have to earn our stripes every day," said Harvath, who has an MBA in technology management from Harvard Business School and bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and sociology from the University of Minnesota. "If we're not adding value, they will give us notice and we will be done. Particularly for small clients, that's comforting."

Harvath got his tech industry start at Apple in the early 1980s. "I worked with the Steves -- plural," Harvath said, referring to Apple co-founders Jobs and Wozniak. "It was a great experience. I did a little engineering on the first Macintosh."

He then founded and sold a company that implemented Apple desktops before landing at MicroAge Computer Centers, a Phoenix-based technology distributor that shot from $100 million to $6 billion in sales during his seven-year tenure.

While running a $200 million services business for MicroAge in the early 1990s, Harvath suggested bolstering that offering. "I sensed some change afoot that was going to affect our distribution business," Harvath recalled. "It happened that change was a little thing called the Internet."

MicroAge disagreed with his recommendation to beef up its technology services business, so Harvath left to start his own such company. He built sales to $10 million, sold the company, then joined the buyer and took part in buying and selling several companies before stepping aside in the late 1990s.

Serial entrepreneur George Johnson, who co-founded Internet Broadcasting and now is a business strategy consultant at Entrevis, said he recently became a Revenue Rocket client after referring one of his clients to the firm.

"I was impressed right away with his very disciplined system of being able to look at a company and figure out what they needed to grow," said Johnson, who was seeking input on his online venture, Tel.A.Vision, which produces inspirational "vision videos" for young people.

Greg Frankenfield, CEO and co-founder of Magenic, a boutique, custom-application developer headquartered in St. Louis Park, brought in Revenue Rocket to help plan and launch a new, lower-cost offering.

"It's grown into one of our most successful business launches ... and now is a significant part of our business," Frankenfield said.

Bob Denman, founder and former president of business technology integrator Avtex, said Harvath approached the company with a couple of potential suitors, including the Pohlad family. The company wasn't looking to sell, but Harvath made a strong case and the deal closed in 2008.

"Mike sort of lived it in his past in larger entities but really understands how to bring strategy into a workable plan for [smaller] companies," Denman said. "He brings a lot to the table for somebody who's looking to grow their business."

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Woodbury. His e-mail address is todd_nelson@mac.com.