Originally posted on OpenToBusiness.bizon March 1, 2017
By: Tom Griffen
In order for any business to be relevant in the future, they must evolve. They need to be able to mark step with current trends, show a willingness to tweak their status quo, and analyze a mountain of facts and figures in ways that prove usable. This is no easy task, but it’s exactly what Chapel Hill-based Quantworks does. In a relatively short amount of time they’ve grown from a three-person start-up to a thirteen-employee company bursting at the seams.
Their expertise is analytics. If this field seems mystifying, you are in good company. But even a luddite like me got the gist after Nick Ghitelman, one of Quantworks’ founders, offered a brief, albeit succinct explanation of what it’s all about.
But make no mistake, what Quantworks does is no easy task: They work with clients to discover, interpret, and communicate meaningful patterns in data. Why? So people can determine whether or not an idea has legs. Whether or not it has potential to be monetized.
They are guided by possible innovation.
Quantworks also is driven to work with entrepreneurs who are passionate about a concept. And even if this concept is still merely an idea, Quantworks will dive in if data shows it to be viable. The bonus: everything they learn has the potential to benefit other clients. Such cross-pollination generates innovation and efficiency.
The three founders, Anthony Volpe, Nick Ghitelman, and Thomas Burkhardt all have roots at SAS, the largest privately-held software company in the world. Additionally, Anthony did a stint at Ford, Nick worked at Target’s Corporate Headquarters, and Thomas at SAP. Such myriad experiences made them better able to understand their clients’ needs.
Quantworks sees value in tapping into empathy. Both for authentic human connection and as a selling tool to attract customers.
“Empathy is what allows us to turn a piece of metal into a Samurai sword,” Nick said.
Quantworks also holds co-creation in high regard. Sharing their proficiency and while tapping into the knowledge of their customers, too. They consciously distance themselves from the age-old moniker of consultant, and thus harvest a culture of professional collaboration.
This aligns with their belief in what it means to work in the first place.
“We value getting work done in an environment that’s productive and inspirational,” Nick said. “Our priorities are to build a killer company while together doing fun stuff as best we can.”
Their plan seems to be working out just fine. And it’s earning them solid traction in a fast-growing and competitive field.
“We found there’s credibility in building momentum, building revenue, and building a great team,” Nick said. “This credibility is something we hold dear.”
Quantworks is not just giving this idealistic philosophy lip service, either. Nick assured me that nobody learns in business school how important it is to eschew the traditional power structure within an organization.
“The dogma of hierarchy,” he said, “is either something you subscribe to or not. But it’s not needed.”
Quantworks’ physical setup is synergistic. Rather than occupy a fancy office building, they run their show at the Launch co-working space on Rosemary Street. And, according to Nick, whether or not the captain is on the field, the rest of the team still gets the job done.
When the founders first pitched their idea to Launch in 2016, they had a clear sense of what big companies were willing to invest in. Nick calls it “the after picture.” Think of it as a minor twist in the common story. One that makes customers’ ears perk up while making the company unforgettable.
“We are able to pepper the narrative with actionable things that move us towards our goals,” Nick said. “This is our special sauce.”
Launch and the Town of Chapel Hill provided Quantworks with a world where they could pivot and express analytics how they wanted.
“We’re still doing what we set out to do,” Nick said. “Nobody’s squashed our dream.”
They just keep moving forward.