Ken Workun and Allen Carpenter spent more than two years working together at Sonus Networks before the two men found themselves in 2010 with free time on their hands and “a bit of a severance package to soften the blow.”
© Photo by Cole Burston
Ken Workun, Allen Carpenter and Scott Brookes of NetFore.
By Alexia Naidoo
“They say that downturns are a good time to start up a company. We found that ourselves,” says Mr. Workun, who is now the CEO of NetFore Systems, a software development and technology consulting firm.
As companies were finding themselves short-staffed, yet unable to hire full-time employees, NetFore was able to land services contracts and consulting opportunities, which Mr. Workun says allowed his team to bootstrap the company and build a cash reserve.
“A lot of our success has been having a small number of incremental customers. Our customer growth, in terms of numbers, is good but not huge,” he says. “What we’ve been able to do is find meaningful customers and create a deep relationship with them and add a small number per year.”
NetFore prides itself on its upfront investments. “We typically put somebody on-site, on our dime, to really understand the needs and dig into the problem that we’re trying to solve,” says Mr. Workun.
By the time the firm gets to the full selling cycle, the customer is comfortable with NetFore and its processes.
“We can tell them specifically what we’re going to do and how they’re going to deploy the software,” says Mr. Workun. “This is very different from saying, ‘Here’s our per diem rate, tell us what you want us to do.’”
The company may have started out as two guys, but local head count is now up to 19. “It’s a company where we have some horsepower to get things done and yet small enough you still know everybody’s names,” says Mr. Workun.
Canadian customers account for roughly one-third of NetFore’s sales, with a big portion of its revenue being from the European telecom industry. NetFore also specializes in products geared toward the non-profit and political marketplace dealing with constituent engagement.
“Our intent is to grow slowly and organically and meaningfully,” says Mr. Workun. “We don’t have an exit strategy and we don’t have plans for going public. I think that approach is unique in the marketplace. We want a long-term viable business that’s built around solid business fundamentals and I think that builds confidence in our customer base that we’re going to be here for them.”
LOCAL HEAD COUNT: 19
MAJOR CUSTOMERS/MARKETS: Telecom, non-profit
PRODUCT/SERVICE: Software development and technology consulting
THREE-YEAR REVENUE GROWTH: 477.75%
Each year, OBJ profiles the fastest growing private companies in the National Capital Region. Firms are ranked by percentage revenue growth over their three most recent fiscal years. Companies must be cash-flow positive in all three years. Click here for more information.