Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Adam Sandman, Founder and CEO of Inflectra, located in Silver Spring, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Inflectra is a Washington, DC-based technology company and a leading manufacturer of software solutions for Quality Assurance, IT Project Management, Automation, and Enterprise Program and Risk Management. With customers all over the world, Inflectra's SpiraPlan Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) system and Rapise Test Automation System helps build, manage and deliver the mission, safety, and business-critical software products. Quality engineering is at the core of Inflectra's toolset. Our platforms are designed to bring harmony across our customers' technology ecosystems, teams, and disciplines, making the deployment of Inflectra's platforms seamless and straightforward.
We have over 5,000 customers in over 100 countries using our products to improve their software development, testing, customer support, and lifecycle management. Some of the core industries we serve include Healthcare & Life Sciences, Gov't and Defense, Financial Services, Aerospace, and more.
Tell us about yourself
My name is Adam Sandman, and I am the CEO and Founder of Inflectra. I grew up in South Wales and was always fascinated by computers and technology from an early age. I started coding and writing computer software when I was just 10 years old, which evolved into my first mini business selling computer games and rudimentary application software to friends in school.
The idea for Inflectra came from my time as an IT consultant. I discovered a new software for managing our project's requirements, test cases, defects, and project plans, but it was too expensive and complicated for most teams to use. That was the idea that launched our first two products — SpiraTest and SpiraTeam in 2007. Now, we are a global company with 11 sales offices and partners across all continents, with 80,000 users worldwide.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is the educational work we've supported in Argentina. Around ten years ago, a long-time customer of Inflectra, Jorge Fernandez, left his company to take on a teaching role with the Ministry of Education in Buenos Aires. He had asked me if we could provide free copies of our products to help his mission, and we were happy to oblige.
Initially, I didn't fully understand what the software would be used for, but all that changed when he invited me to Buenos Aires to see the program he had created. The City of Buenos Aires had created an initiative that was set up to teach software testing skills to manual workers and other non-college workers in the city so that they could better their lives for themselves and their families. I was able to meet some of the students and faculty within the program and am still connected with them today. Many of the graduates have been able to get jobs over the years with impressive companies like Atos, Deloitte, and Accenture. While Inflectra was only a small part of the equation, it was a life-changing experience to see just how impactful the program was on these students. We are now trying to replicate this program in other cities and countries.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Having to wear many hats, especially in the beginning stages of starting your business. When Inflectra was just a four-person company and only selling to small/medium businesses, I had to act as the legal counsel, chief financial officer, and CEO all in one. This is why it's so important to hire the right people off the bat, to avoid spreading yourself too thin and eventually experiencing burnout.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get yourself mentors that will help you avoid rookie mistakes. While you might feel like you have it all together, there are likely some important steps you might be missing in your business. For instance, over a casual conversation with an insurance broker at an event, I realized our business was in need of insurance. With his help, I was able to purchase a portfolio of business liability, cyber insurance, and errors and omissions coverage. Without this conversation, we could have found ourselves in a sticky situation.
- Hire people from all different backgrounds and career paths. One of our core values, called "Second Acts," means we seek to give opportunities to a diverse group of people. We have customers living in every continent of the world, so it's vital that our internal team reflects that. In fact, at Inflectra, we prefer to look behind the resume to find people with valuable skills that might be ignored by other HR departments. For instance, we work with local coding groups to give career opportunities to self-taught people that didn't get the opportunity to finish college but can offer valuable skills to our company.
- Don't start a business to make money; start a business to make a difference. Amid the chaos of raising funding and growing, the vision can often get lost. While you have to make enough money to keep your business afloat, pay your employees fairly, etc., don't lose sight of what's important.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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