Sramana: Where is the company headquartered?
Amith Nagarajan I started the company in college and then moved it to San Jose. In 1996 I moved it to Sacramento to get out of the Valley because it was so insanely expensive. In 2002 we consolidated operations, and I moved our headquarters from California to Tyson’s Corner in Washington D.C. because that is where more than half of the associations market is at.
Sramana: Let’s talk some about your team-building process. How do you go about building a team ?
Amith Nagarajan For us, everything is about the culture of the business. We started to realize that our culture was not clearly defined in 2002. We had a lot of good people doing good things, but nobody talked about why we did what we did. We talked about how we did it, but not why. We stepped back realized that we had to articulate a core purpose to our team. Today our core purpose is changing the world one client mission at a time. We then talk about our values, which is how our team behaves and why. From there, we have a very open environment. Our first core value is flexibility.
Sramana: In terms of functional team-building, your early team consisted of you, your business partner, and a couple of engineers. How did you develop from there on?
Amith Nagarajan That process was driven by need. We added people in a consultative capacity, and we added people like project managers and analysts. That was in the mid-1990s. As we started to work with associations we realized we needed a sales function. Overseas we did the channel team, but locally we needed a direct sales force.
After we grew a bit more, around 1999, we decided to define a marketing function. Starting in the mid-1990s we started to add some back office functions. We added our first CFO in 1998. The first time we opened a second office, in late 1998, we needed some infrastructure for that so we added back office functions.
An area that we did not invest in heavily enough, early enough, was human resources. The whole idea of investing in our people was something we believed in, but we did not have anyone dedicated to managing it. We added that process in 2001, and I wish we had done it five years earlier. In the last 10 years we have added new functions for international growth and business development. We have people in quality assurance and documentation now.
Sramana: Do you have a software development team in India?
Amith Nagarajan We have it mixed between the US and India. The team there collaborates closely. It is our own brick-and-mortar outfit in Pune. We wanted it to be part of our company because we wanted it to be a unified culture. For every function that exists in India, we have people who correspond on the US side. We have a leveraged model, where there are more people in India per single position in the US. That has been a good balance for us.