Top 40 Growth Company Beats All Odds

Just like any other young professional, Tracey Grace was committed to her career and performing with her eye on excellence, as she emerged from the prestigious University of Pittsburgh with an MBA. She has successfully knocked down many barriers as the founder and CEO of IBEX IT Business Experts (IBEX), a training, technology, and professional services firm.

There have been many economic downturns that have forced companies to rethink the ways they approach business. This was the case for a Dutch consulting firm where Grace held several roles, eventually moving up the ranks to become VP. She was challenged to grow the company’s revenues right in the crux of what is known today as The Great Recession. This challenge was met by her fierce tenacity and fervor to succeed. She took the company to record breaking numbers in a new unexplored vertical—IT training and consulting—specifically in the healthcare field right as health systems were migrating to electronic health records.

Although she was producing, the company’s leadership decided this was not a viable growth segment and advised her to refocus. They did not see a valuable future in the Health IT space. This became a pivotal turning point for Grace’s future.  Given the relationships she had formed, and her work ethic, she could not bring herself to sever ties so easily with this newfound customer base who valued her expertise and relied upon her guidance. And this marked the birth of an independent consultancy that would become IBEX IT Business Experts today—an award-winning certified woman, minority-owned small business.

After launching the company, of course, there were growing pains. Navigating as a newly minted entrepreneur is not an easy task. With limited resources Grace gravitated to the federally funded support resources, one of which was the Atlanta MBDA Business Center. “The Atlanta MBDA Business Center was pivotal in sharing information and providing collaboration that helped send me on a strong path forward. At one event the Center referred me to, I reconnected with an acquaintance who referred me to a client that I’m still winning contracts with today,” says Grace. MBDA is the only federal agency tasked with promoting the growth and competitiveness of minority-owned businesses. They provide technical training, market knowledge and insights and networking for nominal fees and in many cases offer free programming designed to provide greater access to capital, contracts and markets.

“We were able to share a poster in the first Poster Walk Competition at an Advanced Manufacturing Summit, and one of the attendees from Chicago came to us and wanted to collaborate on a government contract,” explains Grace. This is a true testament to the importance of the community MBDA cultivates for small minority owned businesses.

“As IBEX continues to grow, we are focused on giving back, keeping in mind our early hardships, we have been able to develop a solution to help enterprises to better engage minority owned businesses through our technically advanced supplier diversity vendor management system, Certifiably Diverse,” says Grace. Within the next five years, IBEX’s intent is to exponentially increase its footprint by introducing proprietary products aimed at both national and international markets.

IBEX was recently selected as one of the 2021 Georgia Fast 40 for middle market growth by Atlanta’s Association for Corporate Growth. The company was invited to be one of three groups on a project with the Department of Transportation, and Ms. Grace was recently named to the board of North Fulton Community Charities. IBEX has retained a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of growing companies for the last three years and is ranked as number 32 for the Inc. list in Georgia. To learn more about IBEX, be sure to check out their website and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

 

Brain Power to Business Power

Mr. Sridhara Gutti has possessed entrepreneurial ambitions from a young age and was consistently focused on the goal of leveraging his full intellectual potential to work on building something impactful. He started his career in the geospatial field and furthered his education at the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Mr. Gutti eventually started his own company, Essnova Solutions, Inc., in 2005, which held the original mission of providing innovative solutions for power companies and utilities.

Mr. Gutti knew he wanted to expand the scope of his business at Essnova past geospatial work, so as the company continued to grow, it further expanded and diversified itself. Today, Essnova provides a wide variety of technology and programmatic support services to the federal government including cloud migration, robotic process automation, human centered design, customer experience and GIS/environmental services. Mr. Gutti takes pride in his team, explaining that Essnova ignores limitations that normally hold companies back and highlighted how his team asks the tough questions in order to move forward and excel for clients.

Mr. Gutti originally came into contact with the Atlanta MBDA Business Center after attending a National Small Business Association Conference in Atlanta, and he began working with the Centers in 2019.

The Atlanta MBDA Centers’ programs and trainings have been a wonderful resource for Essnova. Our company has been fortunate to take part in industry-specific training programs that have helped our business thrive. When things like federal compliance requirements are updated, we know we can count on the support of the MBDA and their larger corporate sponsors to help us get up to speed. We have an ecosystem of resources at our fingertips, and Donna Ennis was a big part of making that happen for Essnova. Our company has the ability to continue learning thanks to the partnerships created by the MBDA. – Mr. Sridhara Gutti

Essnova greatly values its relationship with the Atlanta MBDA Centers, noting the resources provided by the group are invaluable to businesses and their teams. Mr. Gutti also commented on the PPP funding Essnova received through the CARES Act, stating that his company was able to continue to grow and pull in new business in 2020, even in the midst of a pandemic.

Recently, Essnova Solutions was ranked No. 20 on the Financial Times list of Fastest Growing Companies in the Americas. Due to Mr. Gutti and his team’s hard work and aligned vision, Essnova has enjoyed triple-digit growth. Essnova continues to add roles like proposal managers, business development, program managers and technology talent as the company continues to expand in federal contracting, education and commercial, state and local sectors. To further facilitate exponentially growing and expanding services into various federal agencies, Essnova is looking to establish relationships with strong mentors through the SBA Mentor-Protégé program. As far as physical growth goes, Essnova is currently looking to open satellite offices in Washington D.C., Huntsville, Atlanta and, possibly, Colorado.

To learn more about Essnova Solutions and Sridhara Gutti, make sure to visit LinkedIn @Sridhara Gutti and Twitter @SriGutti. Or you can visit essnova.com to learn more about the company!

A Twenty Year Partnership

Ken Taunton, the founder of The Royster Group, originally began his career as a sales rep for a pharmaceutical company covering his home state of Alabama and the Washington D.C. territories. After six years in the sales organization, he was promoted to be the Southeast Regional Recruiter headquartered in Atlanta, and Mr. Taunton described the excitement and passion that recruiting brought him. One day on an airplane, Mr. Taunton found himself in a conversation with a Managing Partner who worked for an international executive search firm. Following this conversation, Mr. Taunton was later interviewed at a competing firm and hired in their healthcare recruiting division.

Upon the burst of the tech bubble in the ’90s, the recruiting firm Mr. Taunton worked for downsized from 60 associates to 20 as a struggling economy results in few open job positions to fill. When one of the partners of his agency left the firm, Mr. Taunton quickly decided to make a shift to starting his company. Over his working experience, Mr. Taunton recognized the lack of diversity in executive candidate pools. He felt that his focus on presenting qualified and diverse candidates would serve as his niche for his firm. On September 1, 2001, Mr. Taunton founded The Royster Group.

Mr. Taunton described the difficulty of opening up his business just days before the tragic events of 9/11. With an economy on lockdown and an extreme sense of uncertainty surrounding all aspects of life, a new business venture proved to be very difficult. As Mr. Taunton navigated through the unfolding chaos, he put most of his focus on finding certifications and associates which would help ground his business and open the door for The Royster Group’s long-term success. Through this process, Mr. Taunton read about the services offered by the Atlanta MBDA Centers, which assisted clients in applying for business certifications and securing contracts. Mr. Taunton quickly reached out to the centers and has been a client ever since.

Working with the center for approximately 20 years, Mr. Taunton commented on how he has relied on the Atlanta MBDA Centers for various needs as his company has grown over time.

“When an entrepreneur starts a company, you don’t have the workforce or the capacity to help write proposals or help with the tools that are needed to evaluate pricing standpoints for different agencies. The centers were a huge piece of my process from the start. Also, from the operations side, I established systems that led to a more developed structure as we grew. As a result, I could focus on larger scale projects and contracts.” Ken Taunton

Mr. Taunton spoke about how recently the Centers, particularly, helped The Royster Group secure a spot as one of 36 companies to participate in a $7.5 billion government contract with the Defense Health Agency.  This fantastic opportunity for the company marks just one of the many successes The Royster Group has experienced as of late. This past year, The Royster Group achieved $22 million in revenue as they have been focusing primarily on recruiting healthcare providers for government agencies across the country. Holding firm to the ultimate vision of saving lives and eradicating unemployment, The Royster Group operates on its core values of customer service, integrity, teamwork, accountability, and respect.

To learn more about The Royster Group, please visit their website and LinkedIn page.