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Growing Breakthrough, Part II

By: Monique Muldrow, Senior Marketing Director


In 1998 three senior software engineers with Abbott Laboratories launched their own software development business with little fanfare and big objectives.

“We each put in $5,000 and bought laptops. That’s how the company started,” says Doug Wilson, cofounder and managing partner with Breakthrough Technologies. Wilson was first “boots on the ground” in November, with Randy Knapp and Jonathan Monroe joining him a month later.

Two objectives served to guide the fledging operation.

First, the three deeply respected each other as engineers and technologists. They enjoyed working together and wanted that to continue.

Second, they wanted to be in the vanguard of the technology Renaissance that was defining the new millennium.

Although proud of their work on Abbott’s massive and successful Architect Diagnostic Platform, a swell of technological innovation was happening around them. The three wanted to ride that crest.

“There’s a lot of satisfaction in working on a project for five years because there’s so much complexity there. But when you project forward five, 10, or even 15 years just devoted to that one project, you start to feel that you’re leaving your technology skills behind,” says Wilson. “You’re essentially missing a whole world of a rapidly evolving technology environment. And that’s really what we wanted to engage in, and create a company that likewise would be engaged.”

Integral to their business strategy was a keen awareness that, at that time, a preponderance of companies were underserved by technology.

“It was true then – and is often the case today – that many companies relied on old tech or the wrong tech that wasn’t quite the right fit for what they were trying to do. And in order to bring it up to date they’d have to spend a lot of money.”

The three software engineers saw where and how they could introduce technology to those businesses that was appropriate, inserted at just the right level, and that solved critical problems. For the companies that engaged Wilson, Knapp and Monroe, their return on investment would be huge. The three used the term ‘nonlinear’ to describe that ROI in the sense that the client would see a $100,000 return on a $10,000 investment.

“To those businesses it would be a technology solution that felt like a breakthrough,” says Wilson.

Next: Moving Fast, Moving Smart

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