The young and the fearless

1. Gained venture capital in a tight market.
2. Engages investors and board members to help company land new customers.
3. Gained international presence by networking and establishing virtual offices.
4. Created partnership with AccessLine, a large host and communications company based in Seattle, Wash. Both organizations will integrate and resell products to each other’s customer bases.
At age 21, chief executive officer Matthew Lautz is the second-youngest enterprise software developer at Brevient Technologies Inc.
Lautz has developed a team of 25 employees who he says are as energetic and determined as he is.
"Overall, I think that we have absolutely phenomenal employees, and part of that is determining who to hire. Not only who, but when to hire and how they fit into the organization," Lautz said. "I think that’s a big thing for us, especially as a growing, still younger business. The way the company is right now, we need a lot of entrepreneurial spirit in everybody, not just in me, not just in my executives."
Brevient is a Milwaukee-based software development company that builds Internet-based business applications, such as Web conferencing programs.
The Brevient Cohesion product is an integrated business solution program that incorporates business intelligence, Web services, customer relationship management (CRM), workflow, marketing, reports, projects and more, providing customers with clear insight into their business.
The company has satellite employees located in Boston, New Hampshire, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as international representation in China, Japan, Korea and offices in Sri Lanka.
The company, which was founded in 2001, will move in June to 10,500 square feet of new offices space at 233 N. Water St. from its current 3,500-square-foot site in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.
Lautz has been able to execute his fast-paced, diligent business model by hiring a mix of young talent and what he calls seasoned veterans who are willing to put in long hours and have an intense dedication to the company.
"A lot of our young talent doesn’t have a family at home. This business becomes their family. It’s given a lot of our younger employees the ability to really dedicate 100% to the organization," Lautz said.
When recruiting and hiring, Lautz and his executive team look to local universities, previous work relationships and experience to determine potential candidates.
Lautz has close relationships with professors at Marquette University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, who provide him feedback about the work ethic, personality and knowledge of potential hires. Once candidates are chosen, they must survive a nine-week probationary period before officially becoming a Brevient employee.
"We can normally tell within a few weeks if you have the energy and the ability to really grasp and learn what we are doing and how we need it to be done," Lautz said. "A big part of why I have been able to accomplish a lot with not as many employees is because we are all putting in more than the required 40-hour work week. This is something we have a true passion for, and my employees have a vested interest in seeing full success. It’s not just a job for them."
As a business leader, Lautz says he has created an environment where employees are challenged, respected and heard, and at the end of the day, they’re still able to have fun.
"As we bring in more seasoned veterans, the thing that I am most shocked by is how much they like it. We have some very professional people with 20 to 25 years of experience. We have some that have started their own companies, some have been directors of major multi-national organizations," Lautz said. "We have had many say that it is refreshing to come into an office where there is a lot of energy with people who are not just there to put in time."
Brevient is a strong company because the employees believe in the technology that they develop, Lautz said.
Through feedback from his customers, Lautz has learned that some potential clients spent a lot of money on information technology (IT) services in the past and were burned.
"People, at least from what we’ve had in our experiences, still have the need for all of it. They’re still willing to do it, but they need a little bit more comfort that you’re actually going to deliver what you promised, you are going to deliver it on time, and you are going to deliver it to budget," Lautz said. "People are not willing to wait an extra year, to spend an extra $2 million to have 80% functionality."
When customers seem wary of the young software development company’s validity, Lautz asks some of the firm’s investors to get involved, making sure customers can be confident in Brevient.
Lautz speaks weekly with investors and board members, including: Daniel Doucette, president of Management Insights and chairman of Brevient; and Michael Dunham, executive vice president of business development for Industrial and Financial Systems (IFS). Dunham is also the executive business consultant for Brevient.
Another strategy Lautz has used many times is to offer partial implementation without a contract.
"That’s something that we offer to many of our customers because we have no reason to believe that they won’t go forward with the full project," Lautz said. "Every deal that I’ve been involved in which we’ve installed a pilot up-front has resulted in the customer going through with the full project."
Lautz said he hopes to continue to develop enterprise software with the same momentum and community environment as Brevient gains more customers and employees.
"It’s a fun place to come to work. It’s fun, but we also mean business, and we’ve been able to produce a heck of a lot in a very short time frame," Lautz said. "I attribute that to a working environment where people want to be working. They don’t need to spend an hour a day reading the news because they’re bored."

May 28, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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