Michael S. Rogers started out keeping workplaces safe. Today, Baltimore-based Securityhunter installs security systems for military bases and government agencies.
When you grow up as a Jew in the Bronx, you see guys with tattoos on their arms from Auschwitz. You get the feeling that if it weren't for the United States, your people would be gone. So I had this blood debt. I really wanted to protect people.
In the late 1980s, I pieced together new technologies for a video surveillance business. Ninety-five percent corporate work. Going after vandalism and sabotage. Putting in cameras where you wouldn't see them: beepers, briefcases, clock radios, water coolers. Going in at night, frequently with armed private investigators. It was so wicked cool.
In 2001, we created an electronic security product that the State Department used to protect Colin Powell when he was traveling. Then, I got projects on military bases and learned all about federal contracts.
The company was originally called Dependable Alarms. We changed our name to Oracle Surveillance Systems. But someone else had the name Oracle. So my company tangled with Larry Ellison's. It sued us. We countersued it. We reached an agreement. I got the respect that I required. And we changed the name.
As told to Inc. editor-at-large Leigh Buchanan.