Tim Jenkins and Darran Littlefield have always been at odds
with convention. Both came from the same traditional accounting firm where long
hours and heavy travel demands made them question the very basis on which the
industry was structured. They each had families and lives outside work. Was
there a way to make themselves happy while also keeping their customers satisfied?
There was only one way to find out: They established their own firm, Point B
Inc., and both adopted the role of co-CEO.
When they set out on their own in 1995, they took
significant risks. Littlefield was married with children, and Jenkins and his
wife were expecting their first child. Jenkins’ mother thought the move was so
foolhardy, she removed him from being executor of her will. But Jenkins and
Littlefield stuck to their core values of putting people first. They
implemented an employee stock ownership plan with the goal of keeping the
company 100 percent employee-owned. To maintain low costs, the company decided
to have no fixed office space. The headquarters are conference rooms on the
22nd floor of a high-rise in downtown Seattle, but most of Point B’s
consultants are either working from home or at a client’s location. Point B
also hired a culture director and developed their own concept of project
leadership with a focus on being flexible and getting things done. Since 2000,
Point B has opened satellite offices in six cities to expand its reach beyond
the Seattle market. Growth into new markets on the East Coast is expected
within the next few years.
Founder and managing consultant, MAQ Software (Redmond)
Rajeev Agarwal knows the value of an education. He was among
the 1.5 percent of 100,000 applicants accepted into the Indian Institute of
Technology in India, a country in which roughly a third of the population is
Armed with a master’s in engineering from Iowa State
University and an MBA from the University of Michigan, Agarwal came away with
one key business philosophy: Have very few rules and apply them consistently.
For the past 10 years, that is how he has led MAQ Software, a digital
marketing and technology company, which is also a preferred vendor of
Microsoft. The company, with its single focus and great execution, works
closely with Microsoft (where Agarwal once worked) in addition to using
open-source technology to manage a global business efficiently and
cost-effectively. The company has 100 employees locally and 200 more in India.
CEO, Xtreme Consulting Group (Redmond)
Greg Rankich isn’t as concerned about whether customers are
coming in so much as he is about if they are coming back. If they came back, he
knew his company, Xtreme Consulting Group, was doing not just well but great.
That exponential growth in return business manifested in August 2009 as Xtreme
was named the 41st fastest growing company in the country by Inc. Magazine.
A former Microsoft employee, Rankich had been exposed to a
lot of corporate decision making and saw the amount of money spent on business
and technical services. He knew he could provide quality and cost-effective
services for groups and clients both within Microsoft and without. Rankich
founded Xtreme in August 2005 and almost immediately had former co-workers and
new clients knocking.
“This aha moment made me confident that my idea and desire
to grow a business services firm was about to be realized,” Rankich says.