Rajeev Agarwal is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in Seattle and founder and CEO of MAQ Software, a developer of data management and analytics software services that was recently named to the Inc. 5000 list of America's fastest-growing privately owned companies for the ninth time―a feat only 1% of companies ever listed has achieved. As the driving force behind this success, we asked Rajeev how he continually stokes his entrepreneurial fire to burn so brightly. Here's what he had to say.
This is MAQ Software's ninth time on the Inc. 5000 list. Tell us about the work that led to this honor. What does this mean to your company?
We are grateful to Inc. for recognizing our sustained growth at the national level. Since our inception, we have focused on ensuring that our customers are successful with their software initiatives. Because technology changes rapidly, we spend a lot of effort on rigorous training for our team members. Finally, we adopt the latest software engineering techniques in a disciplined manner ahead of the broader industry.
Being recognized by Inc. is a tremendous honor for us. In the business media, generally, news is dominated by a few large companies that are shining in that particular quarter. Successful entrepreneurial companies have limited opportunities to share achievements that can be independently verified at the national and regional level.
In everyday business, between pressures to fulfill customer commitments and meet payroll, we rarely slow down to acknowledge our success. Every recognition by Inc. encourages us to reflect on and recognize our company's performance and the contribution mid-market companies make to the economy.
To what do you attribute your ongoing growth and success?
Many factors have contributed to our sustained growth. First, our management team takes a long-term view of our progress―as in looking ahead 25 years. Although being No.1 on any list would be an honor, it is more gratifying for me to appear on the Inc. 5000 list repeatedly since it demonstrates the durability of our business model. Second, our management team is committed to developing an organization with a learning culture. We lead by example to stay technically current. Finally, we stay focused on the success of our customers. Eventually, customers recognize the contributions of key suppliers and come back to buy more.
What is the most difficult aspect of running your company? How has this impacted your business?
As 72% of Fortune 500 CEOs surveyed indicate, the most difficult aspect of running a company is the rapid pace of technological change.
Fortunately, the rapid pace of technological innovation creates new opportunities for our business model since we help Fortune 500 companies implement new software quickly. We have made a strong commitment to being a "learn it first" company. This puts pressure on team members since there are fewer books, reference materials and websites to learn from when you're exploring new frontiers.
As an organization grows, there can be a tendency for the "institution" to overshadow inspiration. How do you keep this from happening?
We try to hire people who are passionate and excited about new technology. In software development, teams tend to be about 8 to 10 people in size. So, our 500 team members are working on approximately 50 software initiatives at any given time. Even though the company has grown, our project team size has remained small. While all teams follow technical standards, there is no limit on creativity when it comes to developing software architecture and code. We encourage creativity to solve our customers' challenges with one eye always looking to what the future of their industry might bring.
Which is most important to your organization: mission, core values or vision? Why?
For us, core values are the most important. Core values guide our actions and organizational behaviors. For example, one of our core values is "early adoption of new technology." That means we install and master the latest version of Windows and Office on the day of their release. As a result, our productivity increases from always adopting the latest software. Everyday gains in productivity, however small, have a compounding effect on overall company performance. More importantly, this action impacts our mindset. Team members who choose to stay with the company accept change and adapt to new environments quickly.
As leading management thinker Henry Mintzberg indicated, for consulting companies, our mission and vision are dictated by the external environment. We did not invent the internet or artificial intelligence. We simply leverage these technologies to help our customers transform their industries.