Prior to 2008, Jeri Prophet was an influential person in a number of established companies. She wanted to take the companies to the next level. Yet in each company, the owners were not interested in growth. So she did what any true entrepreneur would do; she started her own firm, and IntellecTechs, Inc., was born. Prophet serves as the President and CEO, yet she views herself as part of big family where everyone is respected and treated equally.
IntellecTechs is an information technology firm whose specialties include: managed IT services and consulting, security, web design and training. There isn’t one aspect of the IT field IntellechTechs isn’t involved in.
“I have plans for this company to grow slowly while remaining strong financially,” said Prophet, confidently. “I want to teach my sons how to be entrepreneurs by keeping them engaged in the business. Within the company, employees are treated as family. We all take care of each other.”
IntellecTechs’s story begins with the end of Prophet’s time in the Navy. Her job required her to go out to sea, but she did not have a suitable family care plan. She loved what she was doing and says she would have spent her entire career in the Navy. However, family is the most important thing to her, and her decision came down to what was best for her son. So she separated from the service.
After leaving the Navy she worked for a defense contractor and eventually became the second in charge. During her time there the owners met their business goals and closed down, leaving her out of work. Shortly afterwards, Prophet joined a partnership in a small family-owned business. The primary partner only wanted to maintain its sales levels and had little interest in growing. Once again, the entrepreneurial drive in Prophet to expand and grow was not being met.
Prophet asked herself, “why can’t I start up my own firm?” So she resigned to do just that. She knew how to run a business but she didn’t know where to start. The first small business resource that came up on her internet search was the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website.
Prophet began visiting SBA’s website frequently. She found online training and a plethora of information needed to start her business. The material in the website was extremely beneficial for startups, especially the business plan section and the instructions to request and register a Dun and Bradstreet Number. The D-U-N-S number is required by the federal government to register for grants or contracts. She could look up everything on her own time without having to coordinate a meeting with an advisor.
“The SBA has programs for women-owned and disabled veteran-owned businesses,” said Prophet. “The website had plenty of advice and resources to use like how to get started. In a short time, I had my business registered and was ready to get going.”
Since those early startup days in 2008, IntellecTechs has grown significantly. Originally, she had two employees and is now up to 125. When she does hire new employees, her personal policy is only if they don’t go into debt to do so. Because of this, the company has been able to more than double their space in the current building.
Her oldest son Sam, now a 20 year-old business major, runs the accounting department. Those unfamiliar with IntellecTechs may not always make the connection to his mother because he runs a tight ship and often keeps his mother in check. Prophet’s 10-year old, Michael, frequently tags along with his older brother and mother helping out wherever he can.
Within the past few years she again received invaluable assistance from the SBA, joining SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program to help meet her long term goals of strengthening the company. The program allows her to pursue additional federal contracting opportunities.
Prophet has received numerous offers to purchase her firm for millions of dollars. She has turned down each offer, as the business she has grown and the family she has created in her employees are her main focus. This culture continues to draw both new clients and new employees to her organization. Prophet will continue to build upon her success and is motivated to keep her sons engaged in the business. Eventually she hopes to pass the ownership of the company to them if they choose.
“My sons are a very important part of my life. To have a successful business and to have them a part of it is as good as it gets for me,” said Prophet. “I am proud of what my team has accomplished. I am truly lucky to have such a great family and support.”
The Virginia Beach-based business’s clients are spread out across the United States and within a few foreign countries. Regardless of location, Prophet says employees are always treated like family members. Like every family there is a level of disagreement, but in the end the job gets done and everyone supports each other.