Father-son duo behind unicorn SMS Assist starts new, small-firm focused consultancy Theron


The father-son duo who led a service contracting company to unicorn status is launching a new firm to provide one-on-one consulting to often-overlooked tech and commercial retail and real-estate businesses.

The new company is called Theron (pronounced THER-in) Technology Solutions to reflect the Greek word for “hunter” as well as a trait many entrepreneurs may appreciate — untamed.

“Theron is about hunting for the right solution,” said Alex Rothman, who with his father, Michael Rothman, grew SMS Assist to become one of the few companies valued at $1 billion after Goldman Sach Investment Partners’ $150 million investment in the company in June 2016.

SMS contracts with companies that offer maintenance services for commercial businesses, from electrical to plumbing to heating and cooling. The company says it saves customers 10 percent to 20 percent by leveraging technology to connect companies that need maintenance services with those who provide them. That takes advantage of scale and efficiencies.

Theron aims to do the same with consulting services by offering tailored, one-on-one tech and money-saving help for technology companies as well as law firms and commercial retail and real estate firms, said Alex Rothman, who will lead Theron as founder and CEO.

The Rothmans will continue to serve on SMS Assist’s board of directors – Alex as a member and Michael as chair – after handing the CEO’s role to Taylor Rhodes, a leader at cloud-computing company Rackspace.

He declined to name clients, but said he and his father have financed Theron and intend to leverage what they see as a gap in vital services.

“The goal is not just to provide tech development – not just critiquing,” Alex said. Instead, Theron aims to stay with its client company from start to finish and watch how it uses the recommended technology and services.

“We want to help engage partners with companies so they can be creative, nimble and solve their pain points in the most economical way,” he said.

Theron, with offices at 300 N. LaSalle, employs 13 full-time staffers, with a goal of hiring 100 more in the next 18 months.

Will Theron follow SMS Assist as the next rumored tech IPO to grab headlines in Chicago?

“We’re looking to scale this expeditiously,” Alex said.