Some people go to university looking forward to the late-night dormitory parties.
Todd S. Knapp looked around his University of Rhode Island quarters and saw something different than his peers – a potential revenue source.
He began with the idea of studying ocean engineering and ended up finding a new path, one that would later lead to registering his first Rhode Island-based business at the tender age of 19.
Knapp began repairing other students’ computers for just $20. Eventually, word got around, and business was booming. When it hit a weekly rate of between five to 10 computers, Knapp convinced his roommate to move out so he could set up a repair bench. By the end of his fourth semester, Knapp had about 30 corporate accounts on his books.
The promise of the fledgling entrepreneur caught the eye of Alan Litwin, managing partner at Kahn, Litwin, Renza & Co., who was looking to partner the accounting firm with an IT company. The two reached an agreement and Knapp incorporated Envision Technology Advisors LLC in October 1998. He was 20 years old.
Fourteen years later, Knapp continues to lead his company as CEO and chief technology officer. The company has grown from a two-person, basement operation to a staff of more than 26.
At 34, Knapp has a growth plan to nearly double his work force within two years.
He says that hiring well has been the secret to his company’s success.
“Never, ever, settle in order to fill a seat,” he said in his 40 Under Forty application. “It is far better to endure the pain of being understaffed than it is to endure the frustration that comes with hiring the wrong person.” •