EMBA Alumnus to Launch Software and Consulting Firm Focused on Global Public Sector Technology
We asked entrepreneur Josh Ellars (EMBA’15), currently based in the Provo, Utah area, about Patri, a software and consulting firm focused on providing solutions to help companies maximize revenue from the global public sector technology market. Learn more about the launch of his new company.
Tell us about your new company.
The global public sector spends over $430 billion per year on technology. Despite the incredible opportunity, many companies fail to maximize revenue from this market because they enter too slowly or do not know how to navigate it properly. Patri (new window) was built to help change that. We help companies accelerate profitability from the global public sector through technology (new window) that streamlines the bid opportunity qualification process and through custom consulting engagements (new window) that simplify public sector market entry and promote sustained growth.
What inspired you to start your own business and to specialize on this specific sector?
For the past six years, I have had the unique opportunity to help build public sector business units within high-growth technology companies. As an “intrapreneur,” I have found great satisfaction in creating new revenue streams and witnessing new opportunities materialize for these spectacular organizations. Through trial and error over this time period, I have built a repeatable framework to generate exponential public sector market revenue growth and will soon be making it available through Patri to the global marketplace. My vision is that Patri will become a catalyst for public sector revenue growth not only among the booming technology sector in my new home state of Utah – recently dubbed by Forbes as “Cloud Computing’s New Capital” – but also globally.
Why are your reaching out to a global clientele?
Open data portals, smart city solutions, citizen engagement platforms, and government data security technology, among thousands of other solutions and use cases, are making their way across the globe to create more efficient and secure governments. While differences do exist in how vendors of these solutions do business with their respective public sectors, there are strong similarities in procurement process and policy, data security standards, buyer personas, and messaging requirements that Patri’s solutions are built to specifically address.
What do you think will be the challenges of working with clients globally and how do you plan to overcome them?
While the opportunity to help companies access a market that spends over $430 billion per year is appealing, it also poses a number of challenges. When the idea for Patri was originally conceived in 2013, it was strictly going to be a consultancy providing custom on-site engagements to help global companies access the public sector market. However, after hundreds of points of feedback from not only my Georgetown colleagues but also my public sector-focused professional network, I quickly learned that in order to appeal and access a diverse and geo-dispersed clientele, I would need to productize my offerings. Now, in addition to the aforementioned on-site consulting engagements, we now provide software to streamline the bid opportunity qualification process, conduct consolidated consulting engagements online and have built an online content library with best practices for public sector sales and marketing professionals.
What has been the most challenging and rewarding part of starting a business?
One of the greatest challenges I have faced in the process of building this company on nights and weekends has been to set aside my own preconceived ideas about what the market needs. Rather, I focus on necessary work and research in order to identify the true issues companies face when attempting to access the global public sector technology market. It has taken an immense amount of time to do so—much more than expected—but the most rewarding feat so far has been to see how Patri has evolved as a result and is now poised for a successful launch.
How did Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business prepare you for this entrepreneurial venture?
The experience at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business was game-changing. Our business planning residency introduced us to the lean start-up methodology, which I have used to refine Patri’s offerings and will continue to use to bring new products to market. Our global business experiences provided opportunities to help a leading agricultural company in Istanbul redesign their corporate social responsibility and global marketing plans and later collaborate with companies in Brazil, Vietnam, Singapore, Qatar and Thailand to generate a model to inform market-entry decisions. These global experiences, coupled with instruction and mentorship from Georgetown McDonough’s renowned faculty and staff, provided the ideal environment for me to experiment with this entrepreneurial venture.
How have you stayed connected with Georgetown McDonough’s global network?
The long process of collecting feedback to refine Patri’s offerings has come in part from the growing Georgetown McDonough global network. Visits back to the Washington, D.C. area have almost always included meetings with my EMBA colleagues to discuss our professional endeavors. I have also been proactive in connecting with and reaching out to Georgetown alumni over LinkedIn and through other social platforms to petition the same feedback and provide value to them as well.
What advice do you have for students or alumni considering starting a global business?
Be patient. The global business you have conceived in your mind will not be the business you launch, and the business you launch will not have the same form a few years from now. Ask for feedback. Be bold in your outreach to potential buyers and take time to learn from them. Their input and feedback will help create offerings that have broader global appeal and will probably differ from what you have created. Surround yourself with people who will be candid with you. Some of the biggest pivots Patri has experienced have resulted from mentors and contacts who have had the courage to speak up. Find joy in the journey. Starting a company is an educational experience that requires optimism. If you can look at your mistakes and frustrations as growth opportunities and have the courage to quickly pivot when you need to, then you will have a higher probability of success.
What do you miss the most from your Georgetown experience?
Without question, I miss associating daily with my Georgetown classmates, professors, and staff. They are some of the most capable and influential people I know, and I consider it a privilege any time I have a chance to reconnect. There is an incredible energy on campus that is difficult to replicate elsewhere, and I make it a point to visit every time I’m back in the area. Hoya Saxa!