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NewFoundry's growth comes down to four words: hire slow hire smart

NewFoundry's growth comes down to its people if you ask the mobile app startup's leadership team. Putting that staff together comes down to four easy words: hire slow hire smart.

The Ann Arbor-based company has grown to 17 people in its first three years, and it's looking to hire three more now. Getting to this point might seem like NewFoundry is on a fast-track, but that growth has been a much more planned, painstaking process.

"It's a slow process for us," Richard Chang, CEO of NewFoundry, says about adding staff. "We hire slow hire smart."

He adds, "It's really about taking the time to make sure these folks are a good fit. I want to make sure these folks have the right criteria to grow with us."

Chang and his fellow co-founders built their company with the idea of creating a team of like-minded folks who put a strong emphasis on tech flexibility, open communication, and a hunger to better themselves. Chang looks for a well-rounded engineer who might be an expert in one sort of software development but wants to push those boundaries.

"They might not have a deep knowledge of different languages when we hire them but they are willing to pick that up," Chang says.

NewFoundry has been growing rapidly in its initial years. It's now a $1 million company and looking to maintain that growth streak.

"We have been doubling our revenue every year," Chang says. "We are approaching doubling it again this year. We should be able to hit it by the end of the year."

Powering that expansion is its growing workload with companies both big and small. Among some of its larger customers are the University of Michigan and Clark Hill. NewFoundry is creating business solution apps that help streamline internal business processes for the latter. NewFoundry is also working with ROUSH Performance Parts to create an app that enables drivers to calibrate their vehicle's exhaust sound themselves so people know when their car cruises by.

"It allows the user to customize the sound of the car," Chang says.

Much of that growth is coming from referrals, and Chang attributes that success to a cards-on-table approach to client communication.

"It's all about keeping the communication channels open with them," Chang says. "We try to be as upfront and honest as we can be with them."

Chang and his executive team have received help from an executive peer group, MiQuest. Chang, an alumni of Mobiata and Arbor Networks, serves on the board of NEW: Solutions for Non-Profits helping other aspiring tech entrepreneurs get their foothold in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem. His starter advice for those looking to break into tech entrepreneurship in Ann Arbor:

"Go in there with open eyes," Chang says. "Be realistic. There are going to be a lot of bumps in the road. You need to pick yourself up from those bumps and reduce risk."

Welcome to the Year of the Gazelle, an exploration of the fastest-growing startups in southeast Michigan by the Startup team and the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan (NEI). Not only will we identify the local gazelle companies that are perfecting innovative new products, creating jobs, and generating lots of revenue, we will give you a full accounting of each one. The stories behind the entrepreneurs that build these businesses. The investors that back them. The resources they leverage. How they have all worked together to build Metro Detroit's new economy, and how they plan to do it in the future. In return we will only ask you to do one thing: keep up.

- Written by Jon Zemke

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