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Some people start a business for financial gain, others to engage in an activity they enjoy. Leah Brown's business was born out of a tragedy, the death of a loved one.
At the age of 25, Leah was commuting to Manhattan, working twelve hour days for a Fortune 500 company. She was happy to be a part of the fast-paced New York life style back in the mid-eighties. Some days, rather than make the long return trip to New Jersey, she would stay at her uncle's apartment in the city. Leah was very close to her uncle. To Leah, he was a friend, a confidant, a parent. She was absolutely devastated when he lost his life to AIDS. After years of pain, she decided to turn her misery into a successful business enterprise. She wanted to make sure that treatments could be made available as soon as possible to save uncles and aunts all over the world.
In 2004, ATEN (A10) Solutions, Inc. was born. Brown's mission was to support research and healthcare delivery. A10 helps its clients get investigational drugs to market faster and safer by managing critical clinical trials. These trials contribute to FDA approval of these drugs and treatments. This support takes many forms. It can be one employee monitoring the progress of the trial, or providing a dozen to collect data from patients. While combating HIV was the driver of the firm, the firm also focuses on other diseases that greatly affect the African American community.
Brown sought SBA help to grow A10 and help her achieve her goals. She took advantage of SBA sponsored counseling through the North Carolina Small Business & Technology Development Center and the SBA Women's Business Center of North Carolina in Durham.
In 2009, A10 was accepted into SBA's 8(a) Business Development Program. The 9-year development program offers incentives to help socially and economically disadvantaged firms increase opportunities with federal prime and sub contracts with the U.S. government. Prior to entering SBA's 8(a) program, A10 employed 78 and had sales over $5 million. The firm as grown to almost 200 employees with $11.3 million in revenues.
"The SBA served as our compass as we hiked our way through the federal government maze," said Brown.