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December 9, 2008

Zero to Star
in 10 Years

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President of Citizant Inc., Alba Alemán, a Cuban immigrant who moved to Miami at the age of one, grew up among three generations of family and was used to having a full house. She redefined the term when she started Citizant, a government business and technical solutions provider, with her business partner, company CEO Raymond Roberts. “I started in 1999 with two employees and invested $750. The rest was self-financed from billable work. We ran the company out of my basement and I was a single mom raising a little girl. It was hard to tell a four-year-old not to make noise,” remembers Alemán.


Starting her career in software development for Mobil Oil Corporation and the government services division of Texas Instruments, Alemán decided to participate in the SBA’s 8(a) Program and branch out on her own when TI decided to revert to their core strengths. Alongside Roberts, the two-person team was able to turn their basement operation into a $2 million company. “Raymond had our GSA schedule up in four weeks, which is almost unheard of,” says Alemán, who spent her days focused on consulting work and did all her recruiting at night.  “I hired a lot of people from the West Coast because I could stay up very late interviewing them.”


With Y2K on the horizon, there were very few companies spending money on enterprise architecture, program management, and application when the two set up shop. “We brought in $100,000 in the first year, but it was mostly from my consulting work. It was very tough; we didn’t take a salary for the first 14 months.” Luckily things changed after the clock struck midnight and a new millennium was ushered in. “We brought in $2.2 million the second year, doubled that in the third and continued the trend for a few years,” says Alemán of the company, which now has 120 employees and is frequently lauded as one of the fastest growing Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S.


“I spent a lot of time looking at the infrastructure of the company. This was the year I wanted to focus outward,” says the company president about her expectations for Citizant’s future. Having based expansion on past performance growth for the last decade, Citizant is now on the lookout for new acquisitions and opportunities outside their core customer base. “Things are changing for small businesses. The DoD keeps saying they are going to get rid of 8(a), but people forget how much small businesses reinvigorate the economy. You get to a certain spot where you need to change your tactics.”

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