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Success Stories: Spectraforce

hen Amit Singh arrived in Raleigh from India in 1997 with a global IT outsourcing firm, he already knew he wanted to start his own company. He felt the best way to do that was to attend a top-tier U.S. business school and, fortunately for Singh, he was now within reach of several quality schools. Choosing UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School's Executive MBA program was not a difficult choice.

"I was already working and had professional experience," says Singh. "The Executive MBA program gave me many options, so it worked well for me. I found UNC to be a great school with excellent faculty who actually practice the core values they preach, which are integrity, diversity, teamwork, excellence and leadership. But also, I found a strong entrepreneurial culture at UNC."

In particular, Singh credits the school's Soft Launch course for enabling him to launch his own entrepreneurial effort in 2004. Soft Launch, a version of Launching the Venture offered to Executive MBA students, is a course and series of workshops and activities that helps students gain the knowledge, skills and connections they need to launch a business or social venture.

"I knew what I wanted to do and I was working for a company in the same field, but my area of expertise was very specific," says Singh. "I did not have an overall understanding of all the key business functions necessary to start a business. The EMBA provided me with all the areas of expertise, which was reinforced during the Soft Launch program. This allowed me to launch my business."

The first phase of the Soft Launch program, called Discovery, helped Singh develop a basic business plan to see if his idea was viable. Then, during Soft Launch's six-week program, a diversified group of business professionals dedicated one week each to a key function of the business plan, such as finance, legal, implementation and formation of a management team. "These individuals were working professionals who acted as our coaches, helping to fine tune and critique our businesses. Their expertise was invaluable," says Singh. When he received his MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship in 2003, he had the confidence to start his own business.

That business, Spectraforce Technologies Inc., based in Raleigh with three offices in India, provides IT consulting and outsourcing services and solutions to a broad range of clients and industries worldwide. Spectraforce recently was ranked 17th in the Triangle Business Journal's Fast50 list of the 50 fastest-growing private companies in the Triangle region, recognizing entrepreneurial excellence and a stunning growth rate.

What makes Spectraforce different from other global outsourcing companies, says Singh, is that it is targeted to smaller companies. "For a long time, only large Fortune 1000 companies had the capability for global IT outsourcing. Smaller companies competing in the same marketplace did not have the same opportunities. My idea for Spectraforce was to provide smaller companies with the same advantages global IT outsourcing can provide to their large competitors. This is becoming even more important as the global economy grows."

As Singh's business grows, he has not forgotten the people he credits with helping him achieve it. "I give so much credit to Ted Zoller, who runs the Soft Launch program," Singh says. Zoller, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Kenan-Flagler and executive director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, directs the Soft Launch and Launching the Venture programs. "Ted and the coaches gave me the confidence I needed to take my idea forward." Singh now returns to the business school as a coach for the program that helped him realize his entrepreneurial dream.