Issue: December 2009
E-merging Technologies Group’s entrepreneurial spirit has been its best engine for growth.
running a lemonade stand from a table in front of his Westlake home.
“It was hot. My brother and I saw a need,” he recalls. “We sold a good product at a good price.” At the end of the week, the brothers reinvested their money in more lemonade mix.
“I learned the principles of being an entrepreneur, of seeing a good opportunity, being prudent about expenses, providing a good service and controlling my own destiny,” says Samide, now 34 and co-founder and CEO of E-merging Technologies Group.
Those principles stuck with him.
After graduating from Bowling Green State University, Samide joined Realogic Inc., a small IT firm co-founded by Don Heestand, who became Samide’s mentor. When business-software giant Computer Associates purchased Realogic, Samide wanted to rekindle that entrepreneurial thrill he first experienced as a kid. Heestand decided to join him.
“When the dot-com bubble burst at the close of the 1990s, many IT people went into the mortgage business or became bartenders,” Samide says. “We created something new, E-merging Technologies Group.”
|E-merging Technologies Group
Founders: Jeremy Samide, Don Heestand & Ann Katigbak
The information technology firm started small with three used desks and a four-drawer filing cabinet at NASA’s LIFT incubator. Samide, at age 25, served as the chief technology officer and helped Heestand craft the business model on napkins.
The impetus was as simple as that first lemonade stand. “We have bright people here,” Samide recalls thinking. “Why can’t it be us? Why can’t it come from Cleveland?”
E-merging Technologies started with niche IT projects and built the company by adding talented people, who landed even bigger clients. Jacquelyn Huron brought in the Department of Defense, for example, which became a 10-year contract to build and manage military payroll and human resources systems. Charles Painter, a retired 18-year veteran of the CIA, helped E-merging Technologies capture the intelligence business.
Many employees are former military personnel or retirees from one of the federal agencies whose emblems grace the lobby in the company’s Cleveland headquarters.
The company now has employees in Chicago, Washington, D.C., St. Louis, New Orleans, Montreal and Saudi Arabia, providing IT and systems integration services, network security assessments, computer forensics, specialized security services, and technical surveillance and counter measures. A large portion of its business is classified with 16 intelligence agencies including the Secret Service; the departments of Justice, Defense and Homeland Security; and the CIA.
E-merging Technologies uses what Samide calls the “Midwestern approach,” meaning “we do not deploy and forget people.” He offers key personnel a share in the company: “They can see the success of their efforts.”
As a result, E-merging Technologies has low turnover and what Samide calls a “robust referral policy.”
“When you treat people like they want to be treated, they tell their friends and networks.”
Samide expects his firm’s revenue will double in 2010 following a long and careful fostering of a relationship with the Defense Intelligence Agency that has garnered them new business contracts. “There isn’t a lot of bureaucracy here,” Samide says. “We make decisions quickly, and clients like working with us for that reason.”
And that’s refreshing, like a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day.
“Eighty percent of entrepreneurship cannot be taught,” he says. “It is in your spirit, in your heart.”
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