Today we’d like to introduce you to Ken Smerz.
Ken, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
We started ZELUS* with a small group of people that had essentially escaped a parent company that wouldn’t allow us to scale and limited our funding. We were a tech company and our goals and theirs were misaligned. So I took a core team of 9 people who believed in my vision and we put an “office” at Papago Park.
The ‘office’ of course was a cement park bench where we would meet 3 times each week with everyone bringing laptops. The rent was priced right and the views were spectacular, but the bathrooms left room for improvement.
That was 3.5 years ago. Today, because of the core character of the original team assembled in that park, along with the subsequent addition of quality people; we’ve grown to 72 employees. We have remote offices upstate New York, including Manhattan, and we’re working throughout the United States. In fact we’re securing a lot of international work as well.
We are unequivocally the largest company of our type anywhere in North America and possibly the world. We’re truly the thought leaders within our space and our future is brighter today than ever.
Expansion plans for the future include a roll-up strategy; software development; and a pseudo-dealership agreement for market specific geography.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The struggles are always about maintaining a short sales cycle and collecting the cash. In a fast growth, service based company, it’s all about the cash flow.
There were more than a few times that several of us went without paychecks.
We also made the mistake of saying “yes” to any request from any new client. That’s one way to kill a company…and we made some of those corrections and learned when to say ‘yes’ and more importantly how to say ‘no’.
To read more from Voyage Phoenix, please click here.
*ZELUS was formerly called Eco3D before its 2019 rebrand.