Adam Shapiro co-founded two complimentary businesses, pilotfish digital, which is a SharePoint (Microsoft document management system) consultancy and Autopilot Workflow Solutions, which streamlines business processes.
He was born in Durban and after school spent several years abroad before moving to Cape Town in 2015.
pilotfish was launched in 2000, which was towards the end of the .com bubble.
"There was a lot of talk going on in those days, but not much solid delivery, so three partners and I proclaimed that 'business can't be that difficult, let's do this'," remembers Shapiro.
"Our original focus was custom development and large websites. It was a lot more difficult to build websites in those days. We had a great American client who introduced us to Microsoft SharePoint, and we haven't looked back."
He regards their first business success as probably the most profound.
"We were sitting in our proverbial 'garage' desperately looking for business. We had a referral for someone looking for a PowerPoint presentation which wasn't our core business," he remembers.
"But we had the necessary skills and engaged with a 'small’ client' which turned out to be a consortium looking to raise R750 million from the Durban City Council to build a world class Marine Theme Park, the uShaka Marine World. That interaction set us on our way and taught us a valuable lesson in not judging events, or people, at face value."
He explains that the gap they saw in the market was that customers are constantly losing documents, missing important deadlines, failing audits or emailing a document or spreadsheet back and forth and losing track of which is most current version.
"The combination of having businesses that manage the storage of documents and the flow of those documents has been compelling," says Shapiro.
The process was not without challenges.
"Resistance to change is probably our biggest challenge. Clients see the need for what we do but are often too busy running their businesses to dedicate time to their own systems," he says.
"Many clients only contact us after disaster has struck or when they are facing an audit or business review."
He says the IT industry is constantly evolving.
"Fortunately, our businesses are based on solid business principles rather than the latest fad. Buzz words like 'productivity’ and 'The Cloud' are part major part of our offering because that’s what we do, not because it’s the latest trend," says Shapiro.
"It seems that 2020 is going to be the year for change. We plan to expand our offering to the US this year, where I will be based as of July 2020."
* Compiled by Carin Smith