Surviving and Thriving During Hard Times
[Photo: Jeffrey Camp]
Founder, president and CEO
Revenues: Almost $1 million in 2008
Description: Biometrics technology company specializing in software that uses personal identifiers such as fingerprints to track employees and document the time they spend on the job. The technology can also be used to control access to computers, networks and locations.
Biggest economic challenge: Securing the money to hire more salespeople, train them and pay them a draw until they can earn commission. “There are a lot of people who need jobs today, and you don’t have to pay them much if you have a good company and a lot of promise,” says Wengert, who started BioTraits with business partner Ricardo Aguilar. “We are a small company, and we’re just now hitting our stride. ... Funding for small businesses is dried up right now. All I need is to hire 30 people and train them. It would cost only $100,000 to get them going for two or three months, and we have a proven product, but it’s hard to get right now.”
Survival secrets: Future strategic partnerships with other businesses that cater to the same customers.
Challenges for 2009: Too many potential customers and not enough staff to bring them in. He plans to hire up to 15 people this year.
Advice for anyone launching a business today: “Stop building and go sell,” Wengert says.“
More advice: “Have a kick-butt website,” he says. “One of the biggest mistakes we made is we said, ‘We don’t have to have a super-sexy website. We just want people to know we’re here. We’re a solutions-based company.’ Have a website built by people who know what they’re doing. If it costs you $15,000, do it. ... You don’t need to be in front of a customer to sell a customer. You can do it on the web and save time.”