Atiba's Scott Smith
Atiba Software & Consulting Founder-CEO J.J. Rosen, who has doggedly bootstrapped his firm's growth for 17 years, has made his third strategic move in the past 18 months.
On Monday, veteran startup CIO Scott Smith started work as Atiba's first in-house CIO and vice president for IT strategy.
The move was the third long stride Rosen has taken in recent months.
Eight months ago, Atiba acquired the networking clientele of Franklin-based Genisys Systems Group Inc., two months after a heart attack felled Genisys founder Charlie Rhodes. That transaction was set into motion by a Genisys client, who brought Atiba together with the Rhodes family.
Less than a year earlier, Rosen (left) brought in Chief Operating Officer Chip Gallent. Gallent was previously president of GamezNFlix, based in Kentucky .
In an interview yesterday with VNC, 39-year-old Rosen said adding Smith and Gallent allows Atiba to serve its growing client base, while providing both sales and technological leaderhip for nearly two-dozen full-time Atiba employees.
At the same time, he said, Atiba Software has been able to maintain a relatively flat organizational structure and preserve "an egalitarian kind of culture," in which employees can become friends who enjoy such things as competing in racquetball.
Rosen said he believes integrating accomplished technologists and entrepreneurs like Smith and Gallent works better in a small firm like Atiba, than in larger tech firms.
In addition, Rosen said Atiba has fared well through his approach of continually scouting for good people, hiring them as he finds them, whenever possible, rather than waiting until a client demands services he can't staff.
Rosen, who owns 100 percent of Atiba, said yesterday that he has never considered seeking outside angel or venture capital, having relied initially on savings and then on reinvesting earnings, as warranted. He said he does maintain a bank line of credit, but has never used it. He sought the credit line only after a prospective client asked to see evidence of access to working capital.
Without predicting further acquisitions or senior hires, Rosen said the successful integration of clients from the Genisys deal and his experience in adding senior talent have, thus far, left him more open-minded about such moves.
With more senior talent aboard for programming and business development, Rosen may have more personal bandwidth for considering strategic growth.
Smith, 45, has previously been involved in health supply-chain and related ventures, including serving as co-founder and chief technology officer for empactHealth.com (a venture Smith said was co-developed with an initial $40 million funding commitment fromHCA); and CIO for Medibuy Inc., the San Diego-based hospital supply-chain software and services provider that in 2001 acquired empactHealth.
Earlier, Smith founded Smithware, a software-engineering firm that has twice been his homebase between ventures. Smith brings with him to Atiba clients including Southeast Financial, Incentive Publications, Lumen Lamps & Shades and Christ Church Cathedral.
Smith said his original Smithware business bootstrapped its way to $2.5 million in annual revenue, before its sale to Pervasive Software, based in Austin. During the past seven years, having regained from Pervasive the right to conduct his business as Smithware, he has provided CIO-level services to small- and medium-size businesses.
Smith also lists on his resume a decade-long span in which he served as director of information systems for McClure's Department Stores in Nashville. He earned a his bachelor's in mathematics at Vanderbilt University in 1989, and briefly pursued pre-medical studies at Vanderbilt.
Atiba's client roster has included HCA, the State of Tennessee, the U.S. Department of Justice, Thomson Financial, and the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, among others. Atiba offices are at 1720 West End Avenue, in Nashville. ♦