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How SPHERE Technology secured its future

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In the fall of 2008, Rita Gurevich found herself in the middle of the Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy case, trying to help the company detangle its massive amounts of data. Other firms had swooped in to buy up the bits and pieces of the venerable investment bank, and there was an immediate need to make sure the right people were getting access to the right information.

The process could have taken upwards of a year. But Gurevich and her teammates got it done in a matter of weeks.

"We rarely left the office," said the computer science and mathematics major. "We slept there. We had our toothbrushes there. People brought us new clothes."

As Lehman Brothers collapsed around her, Gurevich saw an opportunity. Companies with centralized information structures are split up and sold off all the time, whether through a traditional merger and acquisition process or bankruptcy. But, there were few people in information technology who were thinking about the most efficient way to keep data secure across corporate divisions.

So she began consulting on best practices in the field.

"I started off doing independent contract work," Gurevich said, noting that she didn't have any investors — just $50,000 in her savings account. "I was working from my kitchen counter trying to convince people that I, as a 23-year-old woman, was as an expert in this field."

It didn't take long — nine months to be exact — for Gurevich to nail her first major deal. After that, she was able to hire her first few employees. By January of 2010, she formally launched SPHERE Technology.

That year, the company made about $137,000. Three years later, it was pulling in $3.6 million, a growth rate of 2,524 percent. Today, it has 21 employees and is in "growth mode," as Gurevich likes to say.

"We started doing one project at a time," said Gurevich, who is the company's president. "Now we're doing 10 to 15 projects at a time."

Part of what has helped her firm expand so rapidly is the new regulations created by the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires companies to keep their data more secure. But, it's not just investment banks that come to SPHERE Technology for its expertise. Thanks to the patient privacy rules established by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, large-scale hospital systems and major pharmaceutical companies have sought Gurevich's counsel.

So what's next on the agenda for Gurevich? She's playing that one close to the vest, saying only that her goal is to keep growing her client base and the number of products her company offers. But, she did have some advice for budding entrepreneurs looking to get their start.

"There are so many people out there that are smart and have great ideas, but without someone to sell your idea to, it's just a great idea," she said. "You don't always have to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes you just have to come up with a better, more simple way of doing something that already exists."

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