What is in this article?:
- Interview: SenarioTek Co-Founders Simi Ghiasvand And Bob Alman
- Bigger And Better
Microwaves & RF sits down with SenarioTek's Simi Ghiasvand,CEO & President, and Bob Alman, CTO.
Bigger And Better
NF: I understand you recently moved to a larger facility. Can you provide some detail on where SenarioTek is now (in terms of space and staff) versus where you started?
SG: We started SenarioTek in my living room and in a coffee shop. In the beginning, we had three people. Today, we have 25 people and our latest facility is over 12,000 sq. ft. Earlier this year, we received ISO 9001:2008 certification.
Five years ago, we had the same-size staff as we have currently, but we are generating much higher revenue today. As an organization, we have become much more efficient in meeting our resource needs. We work with other small companies or individual consultants to meet some unique customer requirements. This gives SenarioTek the advantage of providing solutions for all customer requirements, such as analog, digital, control, software, firmware, etc. By engaging the “experts” in their fields of interest—without adding overhead that is not being used on a regular basis—we can provide the best possible solution to customers more affordably.
NF: With 10 years under your belts, what do you consider the key to SenarioTek’s success? Can you project where you would like to see SenarioTek 10 years from now?
SG: Our customers choose SenarioTek for three important reasons. First of all, our technical expertise enables us to create solutions for their toughest RF/microwave challenges. SenarioTek also has an excellent reputation for quality and reliability; we have very few post-sales support issues. Finally, SenarioTek coordinates joint milestone checkpoints to meet our delivery dates.
From a business perspective, we leverage our unmatched business ethics and integrity in the combined relationships with our customers, vendors and our employees. SenarioTek prides itself in providing an un-biased opinion to the customer’s problem. We work very hard to offer products with the best combination of price, performance, and reliability to the market.
Our goal for the next 10 years is to grow steadily by providing cutting-edge technologies to the highly demanding test-and-measurement market. At the same time, we need to maintain SenarioTek’s reputation for technical excellence, quality, and meeting our commitments. Most importantly, it is my responsibility as the CEO to make sure that our values and culture stay intact as we grow.
NF: Do you think it was more difficult to start a woman-owned small business in this space?
SG: As a woman engineer with a BSEE and MSEE, I am very familiar with the challenges of being a woman in technology; it really starts in college. As a woman, the higher you go up the management ladder, the fewer women you get to work with. This is especially true when working in the defense industry. As a woman CEO, having a technical background enables me to close the gap with my customers and work with them closely to better understand their challenges.
Because the government recognizes this, being a “women-owned, small-business” entity has helped us to participate in a few small business set-aside programs. In addition, SenarioTek partners with other test-and-measurement companies to take advantage of these opportunities.
NF: You certainly place a lot of emphasis on customer service. What perks do you offer beyond your three-year, no-cost standard warranty?
SG: First, let me point out that we offer the three-year, no-cost warranty because we are that confident of our product quality and reliability. It is very rare that our customers even use their warranty. But if they need to, we move quickly to resolve any problems.
The most important service we provide to our customers is that we act as an extension of their own engineering team. We provide—free of charge—the benefit of our RF expertise to critique their test system design. When necessary, we offer alternative solutions that may offer better RF performance, lower cost, longer life, future expansion, or the combination of all.
As a standard practice, our engineers communicate directly with customers and take the time to understand their test issues before we provide design ideas. No other company in our industry provides this level of technical service free of charge. SenarioTek’s value proposition is to solve our customer’s test-and-measurement problems and we truly practice that.
NF: Do you have any advice for people looking to start a new company in the microwave space?
SG: Starting a company from ground zero is not for the faint of heart. Our industry is filled with people who are very intelligent and educated, but are they also entrepreneurs? If you are not an entrepreneur, you should not start a company—especially in the microwave test-and-measurement space. This may sound cliché, but it is very true. Being an entrepreneur requires the willingness to take risks, believe in your vision, objectively drill through problems, get excited when challenging situations emerge, and remain unafraid. One needs to always find a way to move forward. The competition is tough—especially in this industry, where most of the competition consists of very large companies with a lot more resources and experience than we have.
The challenge is to find your niche, believe in it, and surround yourself with intelligent people who believe in your vision and move toward that goal. Give yourself room to make mistakes, because you will make a lot of mistakes. You have to be able to learn from those mistakes and be able to forgive yourself and everyone around you when mistakes are made. If you make no mistakes, you are not taking enough risk to grow the company. If you can pull off all of these things, you will end up having a company with competition, but without peers.