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Annie Eaton, CEO, Futurus — Futurus

In our Growth Studio Spotlight series, CO— aims to connect budding entrepreneurs with business owners who have been there, providing advice that can help bridge the gap between a business idea and successful execution. In this edition, we consult with Annie Eaton, CEO of Atlanta-based consulting and software development company Futurus, to share her entrepreneurial experiences — from identifying wins and losses to planning for future growth. Futurus has been in business for 4 ½ years and has 14 employees.

Here's how Eaton describes her company: Futurus is a consulting and software development company specializing in emerging technology.

If you had additional capital, how would you invest it in your business?

The space in which my company works – emerging technology – is vast with unlimited possibilities. We’ve only scratched the surface with the technology we’ve used thus far. While we heavily specialize in augmented, virtual and mixed reality experiences, we have also done work with voice recognition, micro-location enabled devices, and are exploring artificial intelligence and machine learning. With additional capital, I would hire staff to round out these specialties and have a department for each piece of the puzzle.

What is your biggest business challenge?

My biggest business challenge is selling technology that many people don’t realize exists. We tackle the unknown every day and are pioneers of technology. Sometimes, when we’re in the weeds all day every day, we forget that others (including our customers) are not privy to that same information. So, it is up to us to break it down in a way that anyone can understand and show the importance of the technology and its business benefits. Once they see it, understand it, and experience it, the process gets easier.

What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in the past year?

There was a time early last fall where I let myself get a little too comfortable. We had just signed a large contract, we hired several new staff members, the project was going smoothly and financially we were in a solid place. Instead of taking a step back and enjoying the peace and calm, I should have used that time to push harder and ride the wave. While nothing catastrophic happened, I realize now that when things are comfortable, that’s the time to make the biggest moves, not take the biggest breaks.

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CO—

I realize now that when things are comfortable, that’s the time to make the biggest moves, not take the biggest breaks.

Annie Eaton, CEO, Futurus

What was your biggest win?

My biggest win has been creating a team that produces great work, gets along with each other and truly cares about our company’s vision. As a service-based business, it’s all about the people. I have not had a single member of my team quit since I started the business and I take a lot of pride in that.

How do you find great employees?

I utilize the community organization that I founded – XR Atlanta – to find amazing talent in the Atlanta area. The organization has grown to over 1,200 members in the past several years and our monthly gatherings have been a great way to keep my ear to the ground. If someone is looking for a new position, they come to me to see what’s open. If there’s an opportunity at my company, I’m going to be the first one they interview with. The relationships that I build in the community directly impact my hiring pipeline.

What’s the one thing your business is known for doing better than the competition?

We have a heavy focus on future planning, not future proofing. We don’t typically do one-time activations that have no long-term implementation. Our team does a discovery phase prior to any development work to identify both short- and long-term technology roadmaps to make our clients’ investment last.

What is your best source of new customers?

Speaking engagements have been our top source of new business. Establishing ourselves as subject matter experts and going out and educating the professional and enthusiast communities has helped immensely with our company’s growth. At first, it was a necessity because people wouldn’t necessarily be aware of augmented or virtual reality. We found that if we can explain the benefits and implementation of these platforms, the projects aren’t as scary and people are willing to talk about it.

How do you market your business?

While we do have active social media pages, we don’t run ads. We rarely sponsor conferences and we don’t have commercials. It’s all by seeing us on stage, or word of mouth from our existing customers’ recommendations.

How do you hope to grow your business in the next five years?

I hope that we can expand our workforce and services over the next five years to be a highly competitive, nationally recognized software development company. I always want our focus to remain on emerging technologies and adapt as quickly as tech changes. We’ve been able to do that for the past five years, so I hope we’re able to continue that rapid growth in the future.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published May 30, 2019