Mays Business School
Venture Voices

Staying in the Game with Innovation

Posted on July 17, 2012

James Benham
President and Founder of JBKnowledge
James Benham is the founder and president of JB Knowledge Technologies, Inc. an information technology services provider and maker of the SmartBidNet and SmartCompliance software solutions. JBKnowledge specializes in enterprise application and database development, electronic data interchange, strategy consulting, mobile solutions, and web design and development, focusing on the construction, real estate, risk and insurance industries. JBKnowledge is a four-time recipient of the Aggie 100 award and a three-time Newman 10 recipient. The company, and James, are headquartered in Bryan/College Station, TX with offices in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Salta, Argentina.

I grew up watching my dad successfully navigate the entrepreneurial world. At 14 I developed my first software application and two years later helped run an ISP providing dial up internet to around 4,000 users in Baton Rouge. Not long after, I was studying accounting and information systems at Texas A&M and looking at a career with a Big Five accounting firm, and then the path to running my own show called to me again. So, I started my information technology company, JB Knowledge Technologies, Inc. from a dorm room at A&M in 2001 and my office, now located in Downtown Bryan, has yet to leave Aggieland. We’ve been a four-time Aggie 100 winner and I’ve come to attribute our success thus far to one pretty basic concept - innovation. I would define innovation as making an idea, concept, service, or product your own, not necessarily inventing something new. The business part comes in convincing people that your innovation is significant.

Our company started with five people in 2001, now all of which are directors within the company, everyone taking their turn filling the roles of developer, salesmen, support, and designer at any given time. We learned quickly that information technology companies were not going to be scarce in the 2000s and without any angel investors or large sums of cash in our fresh-out-of-college piggy banks that we were going to have to catch prospective clients attention in other ways. From the get go, our focus was on quality, data security, and support. Instead of trying to compete on size, expensive marketing material, or portfolios filled with Fortune 500 companies, we used these three concepts to offer businesses an innovative service based on personal consulting, commitment to detail, and one-on-one support and feedback 24/7. We could offer direct contact to the company President, servers that they could visit as they pleased, and a number and name they could call at any time for help with the software, database, or website we provided them. As a small company we could give them our full attention, and we still have many of those initial clients today. In an industry that literally changes by the day, your relationship with your clients and the quality of service they know you can provide is sometimes the only thing that keeps them around.

From a one-man warrior to a 20 person startup, the best advice I can give any entrepreneurial venture is that clearly defining your niche and what makes you innovative is an imperative first step to getting clients on board. Then, maintaining that innovativeness is how you make that venture a success.

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