What’s it take to receive the Small Business Person of the Year Excellence Award? Read our interview with Chris Cera, CEO of Arcweb Technologies, as we highlight one of the excellent small businesses that drive the Greater Philadelphia region.
Who has been an inspiration to you as a business owner and why?
Gabe Weinberg, Founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo. When I was adamant about finding a cofounder, Gabe was the guy who asked, “Why not be a solo founder?” To Gabe, it was an obvious consideration, and it wasn’t even something I’d considered initially. On top of that Gabe is a great inspiration in how they’ve pivoted the company several times to find their sweet spot, marketed in many non-traditional ways (Gabe is co-author of a marketing book called Traction), and he has been an honest broker of valuable information for other startups.
What’s so special about the Philadelphia region business community?
For a city that’s criticized as unfriendly, I have found the Philadelphia business community to be incredibly welcoming, open and supportive. The vast majority of the city’s business superstars make themselves available to young entrepreneurs (especially the technology community). And now those of us with growing, established companies are doing the same for the next generation. From a tech/startup perspective, communities like Philly Startup Leaders and Indy Hall have been and continue to be invaluable to me and countless other entrepreneurs.
What resources in the region helped your business succeed?
Philly Startup Leaders and Indy Hall have been pillars of the community, and that has significantly contributed to the growth of Arcweb Technologies by supplying talent, customers, advice, and a mindset that benefits our culture. Mark Loschiavo and Mel Baiada of the Drexel Baiada Center also provided a lot of advice, mentorship, and the first time I saw an entrepreneurship community in action.
What resources do we need more of in the region to help small businesses succeed?
There are numerous Fortune 500 companies in the region that are well positioned to do business with the region’s smaller (and not to mention nimbler) companies. When the Comcasts and IBXs of the world engage with great companies in their own backyard the entire region’s business and residential community wins. As a community development initiative, the more this happens, the better.
What’s something that you think would surprise people about your business?
At Arcweb Technologies, we don’t have offices, everybody sits in an open floor plan (including myself), we let people work from home 2 days per week, and we have adopted a practice called touring. Touring involves having “flex” desks spread throughout the company, people also sit in groups that are mixed in terms of functional disciplines (e.g. designers, engineers, product managers, business development, etc.), and, lastly, we make everybody change their seats every 2 months. In the past 6 months I have sat next to engineers, senior engineers, an IT Operations intern, our Head of Strategy, and our Head of Operations. We treat our company as a community, and the strength of that community hinges on tight connections among people across all disciplines and levels in the company, and so we try to facilitate that in as many ways as we possibly can.