IT Software & Networking
Notable investors: Retired Harvard Graduate School of Business professor James Cash, a member of the board of directors of GE and Microsoft, and Bruce Johnstone, chief investment officer of Fidelity Investments.
Harvard MBA Harold Mills came to Florida in 2000 to lead a startup staffing outfit that had little more than a concept and one customer. Six years later, his ZeroChaos -- he took control in a 2004 management buyout -- has $360 million in gross revenue, a spot on Inc.'s fastest-growing company list and is one of Florida's largest black-owned businesses.
ZeroChaos focuses on the high end for staffing companies -- the contract-worker market for knowledge workers, primarily information technology. Its 5,000 employees (1,100 are in Florida) work for IBM, Bank of America and others. ZeroChaos opened in Denmark, Canada and the United Kingdom last year, and Mills expects to open in three or four other countries this year.
Mills began his career with big companies such as GE and AT&T, but "I was always trying to find my way to those new, exciting projects they had going on." As a general manager, he worked with staffing companies, and that led him into executive posts at staffing and human resource outsourcing companies.
At ZeroChaos, he sees plenty of competitive strengths. Never having worked in the lower-margin, blue-collar market, ZeroChaos doesn't have the expense of multiple-branch overhead and blue-collar headaches such as lower fees and high turnover. He can bid lower without his margins suffering because his overhead is lower. And ZeroChaos, through technology, builds private talent pools for particular employer customers to tap as needed.
He says he has a list of 300,000 people willing to work for EDS. He taps corporate alumni to fill contract labor work. With IT unemployment under 4%, "the talent wars are back," Mills, 37, says. "It becomes about who has the relationship with the talent before the job becomes open."