In 2000, Alfredo Casta launched information technology business from his home. Today, he has 87 employees and takes in nearly $10 million in revenue.
As CEO of Cascades Technologies in Virginia, Casta has turned his entrepreneurial fire into a thriving IT company.
But it was a long journey for the Puerto Rico-native. His ride to success was anything but predictable.
After 10 years with the Department of Labor, Casta, who holds a computer science degree from Sacred Heart and a masters degree in Information Technology from George Washington University, grew tired of the federal bureaucracy. He wanted his own business.
So, while working with Labor he began to do IT consulting work in the evenings and on weekends.
"Through word of mouth and reputation I was able to get more and more work. After a while the load became too much so I left the Labor Department and went into IT consulting full time," he said.
At first the plan was to offer government-consulting work as well as serve commercial clients. Through the initial years, he partnered with such companies as Canon and Minolta and offered such services as imaging and document management. He also offered Web site hosting services.
"That's how I got my start," Casta said. "But the business was heading away from hosting. The network support work I was doing translated into creating applications and the transition was more into program and product management support and security. When I saw that I was heading into that direction I questioned what was our passion. I decided that our passion was in systems development, applications development and programming, and product manager support. So I decided to focus on that." He dropped hosting.
"By dropping hosting I eliminated the noise," continued Casta. "I could focus on what I did best. And the other work was driving 80 percent of my revenue anyway. So it was a natural decision."
According to Casta, start up costs were about $7,000. He noted that he financed the start up with the money he made on his initial contracts. His overhead was low -- he worked out of his home and all the work was done electronically and was Web related. He traveled some to clients' offices for onsite work, but he didn't need a staff of workers to service his client base until about May 2000. At that time, he began to recruit a staff. And by November 2000 he had an office. That year, Casta said the business generated about $560,000 in earnings, which he recycled back into company equipment and infrastructure development.
Government Work Pays Off
Casta also applied for and received 8(a) certification through the Small Business Administration (SBA). The certification can be used by Hispanic-owned businesses as a way to compete for jobs against the bigger companies. "It was a fairly easy certification to obtain," said Casta. And he further obtained a Small Business Disadvantage Certification from the SBA. "This was for minority owned businesses or businesses that were economically challenged," he said.
He noted that 80 percent of applying for this certification involved the 8(a) Certification. Most of the work was done, so he was able to get the Disadvantage Certification quicker than normal.
The Disadvantage Certification along with a GSA IT-70 Schedule provided him with a vehicle with which he could reach out for government contract work.
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