SBA Names Minnesota Small Business Person of the Year
Saint Cloud – Scott Warzecha, President and Founder of Netgain, based in Saint Cloud, has been named the Minnesota Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The Small Business Person of the year is selected annually based on growth in sales or unit volume, increase in the number of employees, financial strength, innovativeness of product or service and evidence of contributions to community-oriented projects. Gail Ivers, Vice President of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce nominated Warzecha for this award.
Warzecha, a St. Cloud native, started his career as a salesman at Team Electronics, but it was during his 13 years at Marco that he had the idea to do things differently.
The concept was cloud computing. It may seem like old news today, but when Warzecha first talked of the idea in 2000 of providing cloud services to businesses, it was unheard of. His technology employer wouldn’t even consider the idea because they believed it was a fad. At the time, businesses had their computing resources in the back room of their buildings and brought in technicians to fix and update the machines and their software. To implement his vision for cloud services fully, Warzecha had to quit his job and start his own company, Netgain.
About three years ago, Warzecha made a strategic shift at Netgain. Instead of being a general service IT company, they decided to focus their services on the health care industry, especially small hospitals and rural clinics that are large enough to need things like electronic medical records and networked computer systems. That transition has taken the company from just over 50 employees in 2011 to almost 100 today.
“We knew someone who gave us a referral that got us our first health care account,” Warzecha says. “Eventually our cloud computing model demonstrated that it lent itself particularly well to medical clinics.” As the company began to take on clients in the Twin Cities health care market, Warzecha and the Netgain leadership team gained an appreciation for the intense regulatory requirements in the medical services industry. In order to help companies deal with those requirements, Netgain had to be willing to take on the same liabilities as the health care provider, regarding patient data privacy. “Any penalty from a security breach on behalf of the provider is extended to us.”
Reaching into rural communities forced Netgain to expand its business model. Many small, rural communities do not have access to reliable high-speed telecommunications so they require on-site equipment for adequate transmission speeds. At the same time, they often don’t have the time or skill to make the most complex computer systems work. In response to these unique needs, Netgain has extended their services into the hospital itself, by providing Netgain equipment on-site for clients. “This is the complete opposite of what we’ve been doing for the last 11 years,” Warzecha says.
They’re able to take this step because of the best practices developed by Netgain’s datacenter operations. Netgain staff monitor, manage and maintain the client’s equipment remotely. They can run the client’s systems from the Netgain office to provide upgrades or trouble-shooting. If the hospital systems fail, it rolls over the Netgain datacenter in St. Cloud. Today, 95 percent of Netgain’s growth is in the health care industry, and that trend is expected to continue.
Warzecha’s cloud hosting vision in 2000 – once considered unfathomable in the business community – has moved to the mainstream of IT services. But as it has, Warzecha has continued to lead Netgain through an evolution that seeks out the technological advantages and markets that keep the company on a strong growth track. His leadership has helped his company respond to client needs, weather challenges, strengthen St. Cloud, and establish a national presence.
The company’s commitment extends beyond its doors to the greater community. This philanthropic organization has made contributing to the community part of its culture. They annually donate five percent of profits to charity and support community involvement and volunteerism among their employees.
Warzecha will be honored at the Minnesota Small Business Week Awards program on May 6, 2014, at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest.
For more information:
720 W. Saint Germain
St. Cloud, MN 56301-3501