The primary concern of most college seniors is getting a job. Arvand Sabetian had a different decision to make: Whether or not he should get a job at all.
Sabetian started his web hosting company, Arvixe, after his junior year of high school. When he started college, he didn’t want to give up his company, so he convinced a few friends to help him keep it running while they got their degrees.
In 2008, Sabetian was set to graduate with a degree in civil engineering. Arvixe was bringing in about $150,000 a year, and the profit from the company was about what Sabetian would have earned as an engineer.
He decided to give Arvixe one more year. By the end of that time, he had 10 employees and knew that he wasn’t about to become a civil engineer any time soon. Last year, he had $8 million in revenue, and he expects to end this year with about $12 million in revenue. That growth has been enough to land him on the Inc. 500, two years running.
Despite the fact that Arvixe has about 85 employees, it has no offices. "We’d lose a good portion of the staff if we tried to bring everyone into an office," says Sabetian. "And we’d ruin the lifestyle for the rest. Do I really want to do that?" Sabetian says he even has one employee who lives out of his RV, drives all over the country, and homeschools his kid.
But Sabetian knows exactly what that employee, and everyone else at Arvixe, is up to. Sabetian uses software and a complicated points system to tell how well his customer service reps are performing. About 30 to 50 percent of his business is based on referrals, he says, which means the customer service has to be first-class, all the time. Customers can get live telephone help from Arvixe 24/7, and reps who are on the phone aren’t allowed to help people via online chats at the same time.
"One of my biggest concerns initially was that he didn’t have a headquarters," says Kevin Bromber. Bromber is a general manager and executive vice president for Avanquest, a French software company that took a 50 percent stake in Arvixe in 2010. "Now I’m able to look at this organization and know that it’s 100 percent virtual and it’s absolutely amazing how efficiently it runs. The back-end infrastructure is really impressive. There’s not a person who sees it that isn’t impressed."