Brad Scott has served in both the U.S. Army and Virginia Army National Guard. During
his years of service between 1990 and 1999 he was an infantryman, heavy anti-armor weapons infantryman, a recruiting retention
NCO and an IT systems administrator. Scott started Cetan Corp eight years after his honorable discharge and has applied lessons that he learned in the military
such as building a diverse team and trusting them to carry out his vision. He is also a firm believer in holding his team accountable for
their contributions to the success of the organization and leading by example. He has built a company with 20 employees and revenue of $12 million that serves commercial clients including Sony, IBM, Cargill, Wendy's, Food Lion and Overstock.com. For his service and now for his efforts to help diversify the local economy, he receives the Military Veteran Entrepreneur Award.
By Bill Cresenzo
After serving eight years in the military, Brad Scott, founder and president of Cetan Corp in Chesapeake, learned some lessons that would serve him well when he started the company.
"In the military, there is a lot of responsibility put on you at a young age," he said. "Being able to lead at a young age helped me to propel myself above my peers and handle stress."
Scott joined the Virginia National Guard while still in high school at the age of 17. He later became a full-time infantry soldier in the Army and a recruiter before returning to the National Guard. He ended his career with the military in 1999.
In the meantime, he had also gone to college to study information technology, and in 1998, he began working for a software company based in Israel as a software engineer. He left that company in 2003, and spent the next four years working for a small tech company called Info Spectrum.
"I worked for big corporations and small companies and really saw a need to provide service to clients based on their needs versus answering to Wall Street," he said. "With any big company their focus - and rightly so - are the numbers. Decisions are made to meet the needs of Wall Street, and there is nothing working with that. But decisions are not made in the best interest of the client. I saw a need to start a privately held company and put our clients' needs before anything else."
In 2007, he started Cetan Corp in Chesapeake, which helps companies with their technical needs, mainly software.
Cetan Corp counts companies as varied as Food Lion and Louis Vuitton as its clients.
"We take the time to understand what our clients' business objectives are, versus simply placing and filling an order," he said.
The company now has a staff of 20 who work in nine states.
About 20 percent of his employees are veterans, Scott said.
"We do have a Veteran's Preference program," Scott said. "We look to hire veterans due to their skill set, so we do seek veterans first and go from there."
While the economy took its toll on many companies, Cetan Corp has thrived.
"Having that client focus propelled us, while we saw our competitors go out of business," Scott said.
In his own words
The company Cetan Corp is a Native American, veteran-owned business that solves complex business challenges using technology and talent. Cetan Corp specializes in enterprise software solutions for government and commercial organizations.
Starting the company I started Cetan Corp in 2007. I felt that by doing the right things for customers and focusing on results we could bring real business value and develop long-term relationships that would enable us to serve as trusted advisers versus being just a point solution provider.
Hardest part of launching the company I have an entrepreneurial spirit, and building a successful company has been an exhilarating experience. That being said, you realize that there are a lot of employees and their families that rely on you to get it right. That is a responsibility that I do not take lightly.
A lesson learned After starting Cetan Corp, I learned that vendors treated us differently than their larger customers. They would sell what we asked for, but not provide any guidance or demonstrate a long-term commitment to our business. We overcame that by making it known that we treat our customers with a focus on long-term relationships regardless of the size of the contract and we expected to be treated the same from our vendors. The companies that responded appropriately now benefit from the fact that we spend significantly more as a $12 million company than we did as a $300,000 company.
Risks taken In order to launch Cetan Corp, I had to leave a secure position with an established company and then grow the business and our employee base during a time when the economy was in trouble and most companies were focusing solely on survival.
Biggest obstacle overcome Our competition from day one included global names such as IBM, HP, Accenture as well as other large solution providers. Unlike other new companies that start small and grow into larger markets, we encountered a true "David and Goliath" scenario where we had to add customers and employees in a highly competitive environment. Rather than try to win business by offering the lowest price, Cetan Corp was built with a mindset that differentiated us from other companies. We envisioned ourselves as the company we wanted to be in 10 years and acted accordingly in terms of how we positioned ourselves in the marketplace and how we addressed talent acquisition.
What or who helped the most in establishing the business The support of my family, most importantly my wife, Mickey, has been key. My grandmother, Pearl Carter Scott, was instrumental in Chickasaw Nation health care and worked to improve conditions for her fellow Native Americans. She was also an early pioneer in aviation and at 12 became the nation's youngest licensed pilot. She always said, "Never give up" and she instilled in our family that we should never let anything hold us back from our dreams.
Greatest innovation Unlike our larger competitors we focus on the needs of the customers and help them align their IT solutions to their business versus being driven by Wall Street metrics. We focus on relationships - not individual sales transactions - and in doing so we add value by serving the role of trusted adviser to our customers.
Company growth In 2007 Cetan Corp started as a single-employee home-based business and generated revenues of $300,000. By 2012 our revenue was $11.5 million and we have grown to 20 employees located both in our Chesapeake headquarters and in various locations throughout the country.
Earning a profit Yes, Cetan Corp has earned a profit and has been profitable from its first year of operation.
Future plans We will leverage our skills and proven expertise to deliver rapid and responsive service that inspires trust and loyalty in current clients. We will earn business from new clients by actively expanding our portfolio and entering into new markets.
Biggest challenge in the future Maintaining our high annual rate of growth without compromising our focus on customer results or profitability. In order to meet this challenge we will leverage, refine and more rapidly deliver precise and responsive service that inspires confidence and loyalty in our existing clients and continue to expand our capabilities and services offerings to better serve future clients.
We will also continue to acquire talented and passionate employees from the Hampton Roads region and beyond to meet our clients' needs.