In 1999, Citadel graduate Mike Carter started eGroup, a Charleston-based technology solutions and services firm that aimed to deliver a faster, better, and cheaper computing experience for companies of all sizes. Fifteen years later, the company continues to grow–they earned $20 million in revenue last year–and has expanded its operations into Charlotte, NC and Jacksonville, FLA as well.
Just as the fledgling Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Application Service Provider industries began to take shape, Carter saw a need for businesses to improve the delivery of applications and data to end users. He had followed the early stages of virtualization that companies like VMware and Citrix were developing, and he realized that Charleston was lacking high-quality IT solutions firms that were proficient with these rapidly emerging technologies and practices.
As the classic bootstrapped startup story goes, he quit his job and opened eGroup in a small office in Mount Pleasant. Armed with credit cards, ambition, and around $75,000 in borrowed money, Carter and two colleagues focused on delivering great customer service to become the best–not necessarily the biggest–in the region. The strategy worked well. Despite starting the business in an economic downturn, Carter was able to drive steady growth. Within a year, he paid back (with interest) the investors that had contributed seed money for the company. When the market collapsed nearly a decade later in 2008, eGroup had zero debt and was able to navigate through the period unharmed. Since 2010, the company’s revenue has grown 77%, landing them a spot on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies for three consecutive years.
eGroup’s core business activities fall into four categories: cloud services, applications services, end user computing, and managed services. Their clients are small, medium, and large businesses across diverse industries, including financial, legal, manufacturing, healthcare, government, and transportation. In Charleston alone, the range of companies that eGroup has worked with is impressive.
Check out the infographic to learn more about eGroup’s services:
For Mount Pleasant Waterworks, eGroup helped it develop a more efficient means of storing existing corporate data that would allow the company to make quicker and more intelligent business decisions using real-time data insights. For ROK Technologies, a startup based in West Ashley that works with geographical systems mapping, eGroup handles the backend infrastructure and hosting of the geographical information systems.
Here’s a video with Bob Bender, CTO for Founders Federal Credit Union, discussing his experience working with the eGroup team:
For the City of North Charleston, eGroup supports the IT infrastructure, servers, and network. And for large tech companies like Blackbaud and Benefitfocus, eGroup augments the internal IT departments to assist with individual projects.
These are just a few examples from a long list of happy customers in the region, and eGroup sees a lot value in being recognized as a local company. Richard Young, Marketing and Communications Manager at eGroup ,suggests:
“Local customers like to work with locally based solutions providers – especially in the field of IT. If a local customer in Charleston, Columbia, Charlotte, Greenville, Raleigh, or Jacksonville, to name a few, has an IT issue that needs fixing, they want to piece of mind that an eGroup engineer is right down the road.”
Carter intends to bring the same local-first mentality to the market in North Florida. Upon opening an office in Jacksonville last month, Carter said:
“We found the market to be drastically underserved by solution providers who have the diverse infrastructure, application and mobility expertise and experience in solving the most complex IT challenges. Jacksonville organizations looking to achieve faster, better, and less expensive computing experiences shouldn’t have to look to national providers to help realize those goals.”
Although the territory is new for eGroup, the philosophy is the same: provide quality solutions to local businesses who would rather work with someone in the area than a long-distance national IT service provider.
By focusing on being the best within a given region, eGroup has shown that major growth can come when a company finds their footing at home first, rather than rushing into multiple markets. As they continue to grow across the Southeast and nationally, it will be exciting to see how eGroup is able to apply their local service mentality to an increasing number of cities.