It’s easy for large companies to build their own IT departments and hire software developers, but what about smaller companies that need tech support but don’t know who to call?
Sixteen years ago Devin Zito saw an opportunity to solve that problem. “While working at nonprofit and corporate IT for several years, I realized that small to medium business needs IT as much as a large business — sometimes even more so,” he says. To help fill that need, he launched Teknarus. The company helps in two ways: It develops custom software to help small and medium-sized businesses be more efficient through automation, and it provides IT and help-desk support for companies that maybe aren’t big enough to have those operations on their own.
Those efforts have paid off, and for the second year in a row, the firm made the Tiger 100, an annual list of the fastest-growing businesses around the world that are owned or run by LSU alumni.
We recently spoke with Devin to learn more about the drivers behind that growth.
Building Trust and Building a Client Base
In the early years the custom software side drove the business. “We were small and couldn’t sustain the help-desk side of the business,” Devin says. “That line is much more reactive, and you have to drop everything when something comes up, so at first our focus was on the custom software side.”
Like all small businesses, Teknarus faced cash-flow challenges in those early days, so Devin focused on building relationships and earning trust with larger companies. “We were dealing with large customers who love the agility of working with a small company but may hold stereotypes about a small company being able to do as much as a large one,” Devin says.
That approach helped the company garner some larger clients that fueled growth, and building relationships with customers is still a key value. Creative Director Amy Phillips, who joined the company in 2010, works on building relationships by taking a different approach to design. “One of the ways we approach projects is we want to be creative but also want to think practically, especially when talking about an application or website design,” she says. “We want it to be visually appealing, but if it doesn’t function or flow, it doesn’t matter what the design is.”