Corrections or additions?
These articles by Barbara Fox were prepared for the
September 5, 2001 edition of U.S. Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Life in the Fast Lane: Real Soft, Breze, ProtoView
Not every information technology firm is laying off
workers; some fortunate ones are expanding — Real Soft, Breze,
and ProtoView for example. Real Soft has expanded to 11,200 square
feet on Route 130. Breze has doubled its space to nearly 2,200 square
feet on Quakerbridge Road. And ProtoView has merged with another
and is moving from 5,000 feet on Route 130 to 15,000 feet at Windsor
Real Soft is surviving the current telecom downturn by providing
services, and it has expanded to Crestan Associates’ Cranbury Campus,
a space found by Paul Goldman of Commercial Property Networks. With
450 employees in the United States plus 70 in Bangalore, it has about
24 people at this new headquarters.
A prime vendor for AT&T since 1997, Real Soft is also doing work for
Lucent and IBM — all in networking and development, everything
from C++ to voice over (IVR) support, development, and networking
testing — and it supplies staff through 26 subcontracting
Rajan Desai, president of Real Soft Inc., has a bachelor’s degree
in chemical engineering from the University of Baroda in India (Class
of ’82) and a master’s in computer science from Texas Tech. In 1991,
after stints with AT&T, Lehman Brothers, and Paine Webber, he started
his business. "I saw the need that there were major corporations
that wanted contract workers," he says.
Often Real Soft is asked to "provision" a new system. This
involves determining what the client needs — cables, power,
satellite license, for instance — and whether the proposed system
will be compatible with existing and contemplated technology, whether
the host country can support the technology, and whether it can handle
anticipated loads. Then it builds a mini-system for the client and
tests it in a micro environment.
Careful attention to team building is one element of Real Soft’s
"Because the technology is constantly evolving the good people
are hard to find," says Sharon Paulmier, account manager.
now, IVR is hot, and we have had a resurgence of a need for Unix Java
people. We are spread out all over the country, and I spend a great
deal of time on the road, visiting people and managers. I am available
24 hours a day because our people work here 24 hours a day."
"Most of our people are working in a team format and the dynamics
of the team, strengths and weaknesses, are very important," says
Paulmier. "Certainly keeping client managers happy is part of
my job but so is making sure our employees are feeling appreciated
and resolving any issues they may have. We have an inhouse attorney,
Inderjit Sidhu, to handle not only the contracts and subcontractor
agreements, but also immigration issues."
About half the workers are Asian, many from China but also from other
areas of the Pacific Rim, and there are also contingents from the
Middle East, eastern Europe, and South America. Last year’s winter
party brought together nearly 400 people at Chutney Mary’s on Route
1 in Monmouth Junction.
Suite 118, Cranbury 08512. Rajan Desai, president. 609-436-3636; fax,
609-436-3637. Home page: www.realsoftinc.com
Breze Inc. has doubled in size with a move from
Meadows Office Center to 2,200 square feet in the Mercadien Group’s
building on Quakerbridge Road. Counting its contractors, this computer
consulting and software development firm employs 25 people. For
500 firms it focuses on electronic commerce and decision support,
as well as on direct marketing.
Both Samir Patel and Rita Patel had had significant careers before
they founded Breze Inc. in 1991. Samir had worked at Digital Equipment
and Hewlett Packard, and Rita had worked at Allied Signal and
They cater to a niche market, doing large scale systems for decision
support — data warehousing and data mining. "Breze looks at
a client’s existing data and focuses on maximizing the profit through
efficient and effective analysis, and then presents the results via
web interfaces or other media in a meaningful way," says Jerry
Konecny, vice president of professional services at Breze.
The Patels’ growth strategy is one that many consulting firms try
— but fail — to emulate. Start off with one major client,
a dependable one that preferably is in the Fortune 100 category, and
but don’t depend on that client. Energetically look elsewhere for
new clients. It’s the "don’t put your eggs in one basket"
principle, says Konecny, and many a company has learned this the hard
way. Konecny, a graduate of Honeywell Institute for Information
in New York, joined the company last year after 17 years with AT&T
and extensive work for General Electric in Piscataway.
For instance, Breze’s initial major client was Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Until a year ago, the B-MS business was responsible for more than
50 percent of revenues. Now B-MS represents just one-third of the
business — an achievement of which Konecny can be proud.
last year we have acquired sufficient numbers of new clients so that
Bristol-Myers Squibb no longer makes up more than half of the
"For any business to succeed, you need to diversify your client
base," he cautions. He points out that you become more valuable
to other clients if you have a variety of solutions in your portfolio.
And you are investing in the leading edge technologies when you train
or hire people with those skills to meet new customer needs.
Another Breze strategy worth noting is to leverage relationships with
suppliers. When Breze’s accounting firm, Druker Rahl & Fein, moved
from Farber Road to Quakerbridge Road, it set up an umbrella
the Mercadien Group, to offer additional services. Then it began
appropriate firms to come "live" under its umbrella and rent
space, Breze took the offer.
"We saw it as a win win situation," says Konecny. Rather than
purchase its own local area network and 24 by 7 server support, Breze
could use the existing set-up on Quakerbridge Road. "Before this
we have had to work those issues on our own. And when we offer these
services to our own customers, we can speak from our experience."
He compares this to tasting the menu before putting it on the table
at a restaurant. "To move ahead with any type of relationship
with Mercadien, we would want to understand what their true
Breze hopes to add Application Service Provider (ASP) types of
to its data mining and management services. The most common ASP
is providing web portals, but others might be customer relationship
management support and decision support. Konecny is particularly
about out-tasking "inter-enterprise relationships." An example
of this is when a company decides to set up an E-mail correspondence
with its vendors but doesn’t have the in-house staff with the time
and skills to accomplish this.
"It’s especially useful for short-term projects," says
"much as if you used FedEx to pick up and deliver your packages
rather than take them to the post office."
"Mercadien and Breze offer a much larger scope of services than
we can offer independently," says Konecny, and he agrees that
referral sales between building occupants may indeed be stimulated
No one company can provide all the services and solutions that clients
need, says Konecny. "If Breze and Mercadien can develop
tailored to the business needs of the clients, the biggest winners
would be our customers. I don’t think there is a firm out there that
doesn’t need data mining technology."
— Barbara Fox
Samir and Rita Patel, owners. 609-587-4200; fax, 609-587-7200.
In January Dean Guida’s software company, ProtoView,
merged with Long Island-based Sheridan Software Systems & Trade, and
formed Infragistics Inc. ProtoView builds software components that
help build web applications on all the major platforms. Only a
lab remains on Long Island, and the new company’s programmers are
crammed into just 5,000 square feet on Route 130.
Guida — ProtoView’s 36-year-old founder — remains as CEO and
president. "We are negotiating a lease and moving to the old RCA
building at Windsor Corporate Park," says Guida, "where we
have about 15,000 square feet with options to acquire another 15,000.
We hope to move in the fourth quarter — we have 40 people now
and are doubled up in offices and are out in the hallway." He
expects to grow to 78 employees. Peter Dodds, of Keller Dodds
found this space for Guida.
Protoview was founded in 1989 by this Jersey-born computer prodigy,
the son of a legal secretary and a restaurateur. He began his run
at 21 as a University of Miami software writer. He and his wife,
formerly a software designer at Wave Systems, have three children
under six — two girls and a boy.
Protoview’s client list has included Delta Airlines, Merrill Lynch,
the New York Stock Exchange, UPS, FedEx, and Morgan Stanley. "We
have sold to every Fortune 2000 company out there," says Guida.
"Goldman Sachs has standardized on us."
Sheridan focused on tools for Microsoft’s Visual Studio, and ProtoView
worked on Java and ActiveX, and this combination is billed as the
"the largest privately held component vendor in that market
The new company offers components and services to build web-based
applications using COM, Java and .NET environments. In January, 2000
the firm was chosen as one of 10 companies to fashion pre-built
for the beta version of Microsoft’s .NET platform.
The firm’s most recent hire, Anthony R. Ferrara as director of
services, had been director of CRM Consulting for IntelliCorp and
has worked with such clients as the U.S. Department of Defense, IBM,
SAP, and Siemens.
Infragistics will continue to support COM products from the two former
companies outside UltraSuite, which will now be referred to as Classic
Products. Its products will continue to be sold through domestic and
international partners such as ComponentSource, Corporate Software,
Programmers Paradise, The Programmer’s Supershop, and VBXtras.
"As the CEO of Infragistics I no longer write software
and I do miss doing that," says Guida. "The merger has
me with the opportunity of running a leading software company. On
a daily basis I come face to face with the challenges of today’s
marketplace; this involves recognizing the latest technology trends
and developing new applications that deliver added value and benefits
to our customers. Working with the young and talented staff at
to develop these industry leading applications for a constantly
marketplace is what brings me great satisfaction."
"We are doing our part to make it easier for programmers to build
applications," says Guida.
130, Cranbury 08512. Dean Guida, president. 609-655-5000; fax,
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