Bad Economy? Tribridge Expects to Double Revenues
YOUR REVENUES FROM ABOUT $4.3 MILLION TO $8 MILLION might
seem like a good trick in a year like this one, but for Tribridge
Consulting Inc., it's just a matter of continuing a tradition.
All right, it's a tradition with a short history, but "I think
our business model will sustain our profitability," says co-founder
and chief executive officer Tony DiBenedetto, who says that
the second-year revenues of $4.3 million followed first-year's
necessary, DiBenedetto says, because "we're not trying to
be a public company. We're interested in being a high-quality
firm, and that's never out of style. It allows you to surface
to the top of the heap. Some chase being sexy and big, but
we're not a flash in the pan. I think our model, over time,
will be best for us. We've decided to stay focused on our
(www.tribridge.com) opened its doors in September 1998 when
DiBenedetto, Brian Deming and Michael Herdegen, all of whom
had worked together at Arthur Andersen but in different areas
of expertise, sat down with venture capitalist Tom Wallace
at Malio's restaurant in Tampa. "He was the seed capital behind
the company. He said the business plan was great, but advised
that our clients were going to dictate what business we were
going to be in. Tom gave us the push over the cliff to allow
us to do things right. We turned a profit in our fourth month.
We had thought we'd be successful, but that was a surprise."
left the big consulting firm for different reasons, but agreed
that as its business model changed "there would be an opportunity
to take market share in the middle market, to provide really
high quality services in that space that others weren't focused
on." And there was the personal aspect: "We all had young
families. We thought it not in our best interests to be traveling
the world, but would rather focus on a city or state, keeping
the business focused." Plus, they wanted to adopt a different
culture. Tribridge has "open management, open accounting books,
open decision-making," DiBenedetto says, "and we bring in
the kinds of people who are open-minded to everyone's input.
That's hard to control in a large firm. We have 53 people
now, and they're probably stronger than the people we had
at Arthur Andersen."
to Tribridge's success has been its exhaustive screening process
that allows the firm to "get the cream of the crop of the
Big Five," DiBenedetto says.
Terp, director of business development, says the firm has
become a "go-to place for employment. A people hire A people,"
he says. "Our culture says we're going to find the right people,
and the people we put into projects have a vast amount more
experience than our competitors." One measure of the success
of that idea is that "40 percent of our revenue comes from
repeat business," says DiBenedetto.
services include business process reengineering (backoffice,
accounting, sales and marketing), as well as developing marketing
plans. But half the revenue comes from "a variety of technology
services, including selecting and implementing software for
CRM or ERP. We're also a development shop, and have about
17 of our people doing development of applications that run
on the Web. We're a close partner with Microsoft in that space,"
years, Tribridge has "done 150 projects for 78 companies,
everyone of them a referencable client," he says. "In 10 years
with Arthur Andersen, I did work for 100 companies."
DiBenedetto cites a long list of reasons why Tribridge has
spent most of its existence in the black, he gives credit
to "Tom Wallace's great advice. Always listen to the marketplace,
he told us. It may be difficult for a big firm to change,
but I'm not on a big cruise ship now. This is a speedboat.
We can be nimble, focused. And we've turned projects down
if we think we can't add value."
long-awaited University of South Florida incubator for high-tech
firms was due to open in September, complete with its first
occupants and plans to house from six to eight new firms in
the next 18 to 24 months.
Michael Kovac, executive director of high technology partnerships
for USF and chair of the steering committee to establish the
incubator, says the 11,000-square-foot space rented near the
university at Tampa's Verizon Telecom Park will house three
possible levels of firms: 1) companies that have plans to
commercialize some of the intellectual property generated
by USF researchers, who this year are working with $171 million
in externally funded research; 2) USF graduate students or
faculty members interested in starting a company, providing
it meets screening criteria; and 3) anyone in the Tampa Bay
area with a tech-related idea that has some synergy with the
nature of university research and would benefit from a university
accepted into the incubator will be offered reception services,
telecommunications facilities and copying services as well
as access to accounting and other professional services, including
some pro bono legal work, plus introductions to venture capitalists.
for the incubator is being shared by USF and an unnamed bay
area entrepreneur, Kovac says.
There was a lesson in the perils and wonders of outdoor advertising
for technology companies in Hydrogen Media Inc.'s Kevin Hourigan's
talk at a luncheon meeting of the Internet Business Association
International Inc. (IBAii). Hourigan, president and CEO of
the St. Petersburg firm that seemed to mushroom onto the tech
scene two years ago, said the billboards the company used
were originally intended as advertising.
20 percent of our revenue to branding in 1998," he said, "and
the company went from one to six offices, and quadrupled our
revenue. We used the billboards you may have seen everywhere
as advertising we probably had the majority of billboards
in Florida at that time but they didn't work." They were
a huge success as a branding tool, however, Hourigan said.
of the billboards was one reason he cited for their failure
as advertising. The most expensive one in the state was outside
Walt Disney World on I-4. "But it didn't work." Families with
theme park fantasies in their heads may not be the best target
audience for an Internet firm like Hydrogen Media.
by airports were an entirely different story. Hydrogen established
a billboard presence at the airports in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale,
Los Angeles and other cities around the country. "Business
travelers saw the billboards at both ends." Hydrogen, which
occupied a distinctive but fairly small set of offices just
south of Ulmerton Road at the time, suddenly had a national
presence and was off to a roaring start.
has since retrenched, and now prefers more mundane and far
less costly kinds of advertising, Hourigan said, focusing
on tech and media and real estate trade shows, for example.
the Quest for "White Light"
To accelerate the development of ultraviolet light-emitting
diodes that it expects will provide efficient "white light"
devices, Uniroyal Technology Corp., Sarasota, has signed agreements
with the University of South Florida, the University of Central
Florida and the University of Florida. The company's researchers
will be working in a new high-tech facility nearing completion
in Tampa while each university will be conducting its own
research structural measurement, UCF electrical and optical
characterization and UF epitaxial or layed crystalline growth
and processing of ultraviolet devices. The universities will
receive part of the $3.6 million Uniroyal hopes to reserve
from a sales tax credit for research and development, with
the State of Florida matching those funds.
says high-brightness LEDs could set up new markets in solid-state
white lighting, particularly useful in medical diagnoses,
optical storage and compact sensing devices in the chemical,
environmental and biological fields. Michael G. Kovac, USF's
director of high-technology commercial partnerships, says
the move is likely to make the Tampa Bay region "the nucleus
of an explosive expansion into a major new technology market."
© Maddux Report L.C. 2001