CEO Bob Scaccia connects the dots
Imagine a world where everything around us — even the things we can’t see — can think and talk. When you hold a sheet of paper, imagine if the paper could talk. What would it say if it had a brain more powerful than yours or mine? What could it tell you? How about the trees from which the paper was formed? The distance the tree traveled to get to your hands. What the paper’s temperature is. What its chemistry is, or how thick it is, or if there are imperfections.
What about the ink? Maybe it would tell you what printer it came from, what the ink consists of, or whether it’s organically made.
What if every piece of paper could send to its manufacturer all of its properties, how it is being used and when it is discarded? What if it could provide insight so its manufacturer could make smarter business decisions?
Imagine a world where everything can think and talk.
Now stop imagining and start believing. Tiny chips with brains are all around us. It is a technical revolution that is only gaining speed, and it’s the spark that led to my desire to learn everything I could about firmware-centric progress and how it can shape our day-to-day lives.
In 2009, I attended a discussion on using LinkedIn to connect with people in my region. At that time I was in my 13th year at Keithley Instruments in Cleveland, developing complex firmware solutions for the semiconductor fabrication industry.
I enjoyed the work I was doing and figured there had to be others like me, so I created a LinkedIn group called Firmware Engineers of Northeast Ohio, thinking I might be able to reach around 30 other firmware enthusiasts. Five years later, it has reached 220 members from more than 70 companies.
Among my connections was a consultant who shared my passion for firmware and was well-known in the region. Through our conversations, I learned he was doing incredibly well and loved the freedom he gained by choosing select projects and with whom to work. He also told me that I could use consultants under subcontract to expand my reach to companies needing full solutions.
The match was lit. I soon started winning projects that required teams by using subcontractors and harnessing the power of the cloud to connect with talent all over the world. I then organized the very first group on LinkedIn specifically for firmware engineers everywhere called Firmware.
That was 2011, and I was ready to take an even bigger step.
Up and running
I knew companies were only scratching the surface of what could be achieved in a world so full of knowledge and connectivity. And if technology was going to keep its foot on the accelerator of human evolution, I wanted in, and I wanted more.
Fueled by my passion for technology and how it has the power to radically change the way people interact with things and machines, I launched USA Firmware LLC in July 2011. I knew it was risky, but I was confident.
We signed our first three clients in October of that year, and that just added to my determination. I focused on growing my network, using referrals to gain a stronger grasp on the business. I kept hammering the business relationships I had developed, especially the Firmware group on LinkedIn, which now has tens of thousands of members. I also created a Firmware Consultants group, which itself has thousands of members.
Being so well-connected and having more than 25 years of experience, I got the attention of Embedded Systems, the most influential magazine for firmware professionals. I subsequently wrote technical articles for the magazine and what followed, a blog I called “In the trenches, the art of firmware engineering.”
On the rise
As my stature in the industry continued to grow, so did USA Firmware Corporation. In the first year, our top-line revenue was about $250,000. Solid, but I knew our potential was much bigger, so I chose to utilize a lead-generation company to penetrate the local industrial marketplace.
One of the first leads generated was a local company with more than $30 million in annual sales. They needed to refresh their entire product line, a massive project that required a considerable amount of firmware and electronics. They were stuck and didn’t have the internal knowledge to leverage the advances in technology. After three months of meetings, we presented our solutions, came to an agreement, and signed our first multiple-year contract for north of $300,000.
In the middle of my second year, with an expanding list of clients and a large team of consultants, it was time to transition from my home office to a building that had lab space and room for full-time employees. We leased a space of about 900 square feet in July 2012 — it’s difficult to describe the invigorating feeling I had that first day I walked in and closed the door behind me, and it hasn’t changed since.
By the end of our second year, momentum was increasing and our top-line revenue was $450,000. By February 2013 we had hired our first two employees and knocked out a separating wall and doubled our square-footage.
Around that same time, one of our original clients, whom we had lost after they were acquired, contacted me. They had been pleased with the quality of our work and the professionalism, respect and integrity we shared, and they wanted to refresh their product line — something we now were very familiar with.
With two large clients under our belt, we invested in top regional talent to grow the business even further. We also came to realize that there was a large market we were ignoring: contract manufacturers. This came from observing our competition and recognizing that by establishing business relationships with contract manufacturers — all of whom were hungry for the elusive quality that USA Firmware could provide — we could grow our business even further and tap into those inventors trying to make the world of things smarter.
Today and beyond
Our staff and our revenues have continued to grow at a healthy rate. We are an industry leader in making quality products available to clients who want to do amazing things by making sure all elements of the design are created with the best of quality from experts in their fields who are passionate about engineering.
See what can happen with a vivid imagination?