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This article was prepared for the December 5, 2001 edition of U.S.
1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
When Technology Shifts Move Fast & Keep Selling
Dean Guida, president and CEO of Route 130-based
Infragistics, Guida bootstrapped his company to profitability. But
it wasn’t easy. "Next time I would take the venture capital,"
says Guida, at 37 a veteran of 12 years in the software business.
Guida talks about how he keeps his company growing in a difficult
economy on Tuesday, December 11, at 4 p.m. at an NJIT event, "IT
Success Stories," at the Fort Monmouth Officers Club. Cost: $70.
Infragistics was formed from a recent merger of Sheridan Software
of Melville, New York, and ProtoView Development Corporation, which
Guida founded in 1989. Growing steadily, it is up to 60 employees,
and is about to triple its office space to 15,000 square feet with
a move, scheduled for December 14, to Windsor Corporate Park in East
Windsor. The new space accommodates up to 95 people, and depending
on the economy, Guida hopes to employ that many within two years.
Infragistics publishes software components for COM and Java
environments, and is about to start marketing components written in
C# for Microsoft’s upcoming .NET environment. Developers include
these components in software. An example, says Guida, is energy
Exelon’s use of the company’s InterAct data visualization tool. Exelon
subsidiary, PowerTeam, sells and trades energy, and uses the
tool to track its movement, minute-by-minute, across a giant map.
Other Infragistics customers include Lehman Brothers, Morgan Stanley,
and Fidelity, which include the company’s software components in
Guida is proud to say that his company had a role in restoring
to lower Manhattan after the attacks of September 11. Verizon used
some of its new .NET components in putting phones back online.
Infragistics is a private company, and Guida won’t disclose revenue,
but he does say that it is profitable, as was its predecessor,
This would have been a "blow out year," he says, but the
downturn did hurt. "Some customers cut orders in half," he
says. Yet, with the merger and the move to .NET components, he expects
to grow revenue 30 percent next year.
Guida has seen a number of software companies go under. One reason
for failure, he says, is coming out with a great product, and then
resting. "Building a better product is your ticket to the
he says. "To win, you need strategy. You need to know how to
and sell. All elements have to be successful."
These elements include:
everything," says Guida. Products only take you so far. They need
fixes, upgrades. You need to have smart people around to make them.
As important as brains is motivation. "You have to have people
who need to succeed," he says.
sell between releases," says Guida. "It’s all about
It doesn’t cost much to produce software, and the smart company will
strive to put out and sell as much as possible, exploring every
Its role, in part, is to supervise distributors throughout Europe.
Selling abroad is a way to leverage R&D expense, says Guida, who
out, "If you’re only selling to North America, you’re only selling
to half the world." Having an overseas office is a good
because it allows the company to be in-tune with the needs and buying
patterns that are different than those of North America.
was good for ProtoView, the company he founded, says Guida. The two
had some complementary technologies, but more significantly, they
had some competing products. Instead of going head to head, each
marketing and sales dollars in search of the same customers, it made
sense for them to join forces.
nothing stays the same for long. "I’ve been through four or five
technology shifts," says Guida. "The first time, it nearly
killed us. I mean really killed us, out-of-business killed us."
At that time, the company derived 80 percent of its revenue from a
C++ visual development tool, and, says Guida, "Microsoft and
decided they had to be in that space." Analysts, and then the
media, declared his company irrelevant. Despite the fact that sales
remained strong, Guida knew he had develop other products — fast.
That is when he started to make components.
shift is a life and death juggling act. "You have to shift
dollars," Guida says. "You have to tell everyone `we’re going
to be fine; we’re going to make it." Sales have to be kept up,
but at the same time, investments have to be made in future products.
And, says Guida, "you have to leverage customers into the new
Guida has kept all the balls in the air several times now, and says
the shift to .NET, which his merger positioned him for, is one of
the biggest technological shifts yet. "It’s like going from DOS
to Windows," he says.
bottom, Guida says his company is in position to capitalize on the
.NET shift. And while he says he couldn’t go through the stress of
another bootstrap start-up, he points out that there are advantages
to building a company bit-by-bit from its profits. There is equity,
of course. But there is more.
"There’s a lot of satisfaction," says Guida, a father of
"You know you did it by yourself."
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