founder and CEO of Philadelphia-based geospatial analysis firm Azavea, is all about good growth. "We hire conservatively. We're not a venture capital funded company. We grow based on cash flow and the amount of business coming in, so there's not much margin for error."
His company is currently in the process of building staff. Some positions have recently been filled, while others are in the resume review stage, and still other positions are yet to be posted.
Azavea has built a strong reputation for merging geographic data with web and mobile software. Its high profile projects include the recently released PhillyTreeMap
, which can easily be adapted to any city in the world and was funded by a research and development grant from the USDA; PhillyStormWater
, to assist the Philadelphia Water Department's Green Stormwater Management Initiative, and a yet to be launched open source redistricting tool for implementation anywhere in America.
Azavea has just added several administrative and marketing assistants, a Graphic Information System (GIS) Analyst and a web designer. "We have grown every year we've been around," reflects Cheetham. "The last 2 years were relatively slow. Last year was 6 to 7 percent growth. The year before, nine percent. This year we're on track to grow 20 percent."
The secret of Azavea's growth is a mix of spending on business development and marketing through lean times, along with the lucky decision to hire a dedicated grant proposal writer just as the recession began. "We didn't necessarily anticipate the recession," says Cheetham, expanding Azavea nationally as well as internationally, with a recent job for the City of Toronto. "We get a fair amount of federal R&D work," says Cheetham, and while that's not the most profitable sector of the business, it's good for cash flow and pays for research that lays the groundwork for applications that can be adapted to any city or region in the world.
Azavea is always looking for great software engineers, a job sector that has remained fairly recession proof. In comparison, administrative job listings yield hundreds of resumes, and as a result, Azavea has developed a tool to select applicants. "We have crafted a questionnaire that requires job seekers to go to our website and look at the projects we do," says Cheetham.
Those who make it to the interview round have a much better take on Azavea's work and environment, and are able to explain exactly why Azavea is the right fit. It's almost like a college application, says Cheetham, who adds that he asks would-be employees where they heard about the job opening, allowing Azavea target the most effective places to advertise. Maybe there's a future app: Azavea Management Map?Source
: Robert Cheetham, AzaveaWriter
: Sue Spolan