Delali Dzirasa: CEO with a Mission to Build Software with a Soul
With the goal of providing sustainable technological solutions in Baltimore, Delali Dzirasa shares his experience and advice in building a successful business.
Delali Dzirasa graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and has over 15 years of experience leading different teams in creating agile software programs.
In 2009, Dzirasa founded Fearless Solutions, a digital services firm with a mission to create software with a soul through its wide variety of computer software solutions.
Apart from managing his company, he is also one of the founding members of the governing board of the Digital Services Coalition, an organization providing true digital transformation for the public.
And in the past, he chaired the inaugural activities DevOpsDays Baltimore and Hack Baltimore, two city-wide events aimed at IT professionals and like-minded individuals.
TRANSITIONING FROM A CONSULTANT TO A CEO
Dzirasa started as a consultant in a company wherein he learned about the business side of managing a business. With this, he then started to focus on his own company after talking to various mentors.
“So, I talked to my mentors that were there and said, ‘Hey, I’m thinking about jumping out now, what do you think?’ And honestly it was pretty split. Some said you’ll never be ready, just jump. Others were, you know, take your time. You know, there’s other pieces you can pick up before you go, you know. Limit the risk as you jump out, which is also good advice.”
However, in order for his company to be viable, Dzirasa cut his expenses, sold his house, moved in with mom, and asked to use her basement as his workspace for a year. Fortunately, they were able to gain success after 10 months in the basement.
“It really was really just this grind and very organic and so went from one and found enough revenue coming in to then bring on a second person and the third person. And so that was really kind of our growth of the last, the first few years actually.”
THE STORY BEHIND FEARLESS AND THE PURPLE COW
Dzirasa recognized that they needed to have a name that would stand out in the marketplace so they named their company, Fearless.
“I’d pick a name, Fearless, you know. I see it every day. It’ll be a consistent reminder to kind of press through it and to really not be afraid to be different, not being afraid to live on the bleeding edge and do things a little differently than what we’ve seen out in the market.”
Apart from their company’s name, one thing that also stands out is their mascot which is derived from a book written by Seth Goden entitled, “Purple Cow,’ which highlighted the importance of being remarkable.
“Imagine… we see a brown cow. You know, we get excited… You’ll have some time later, maybe driving, and see a second brown cow, you look around and it looks a lot like the first guy… Wasn’t as interesting as the first one, right? Pass the cow, keep driving. Before you know it, you’re passing cow after cow after cow and you get really good at that point about ignoring them, right? You barely even notice that cows are there in the distance… Wouldn’t it be something if you are driving and you saw a purple cow? Man, you pull over the car, you take pictures, and this wasn’t big back then, but baby, you put that all over social media.”
THE STORY BEHIND THE NEW HUBZONE MAP
Fearless is a HUBZone certified company and with its goal to give back to the community, they created a new HUBZone map.
“When we looked at the data, the data says, ‘Well, no one.’ And this is a generalization across the board on average, the government does not make its numbers. And so we’re engineers, we kept asking like why?… Something’s wrong. And so we took it upon ourselves and said, ‘Okay. Well, let’s look at what’s wrong and let’s see if we can figure out how we can help.’”
So, when they found that the map was dated and it was reporting the wrong information, they fixed the technical aspect of it. They scrapped all of the SBA data, built their own map, and used it internally to track, hire, and train people. That’s when Dzirasa’s team caught the attention of the Small Business Association.
“They called us one day and said, ‘Hey, we heard about this thing you’re doing. We want you to kind of stop. We want you to consider doing this for us.’ So we were awarded a contract to modernize all the HUBZone technology nationwide for SBA. And so the new map that you see is actually a map that we built for the program as a part of the modernization.”
ADVICE FOR OTHER BUSINESSES
Dzirasa advised business owners to really understand who you want to be and what you envision for your businesses.
“Start with why and why are you here? Why are you starting a business? What are you looking to get out? Why are you looking to do this? Where were you looking to help? They’re not clear about that. So I think that’s the first thing that it takes a little bit of soul searching to be able to figure that out.”
With this advice, he also encourages businesses to really have a clear focus on what you really do.
“I think in this new age, it’s gotta be led with capability, right? You ought to, you have to be good at something, right. And lead and sell with that.”
If you want to watch the full video of the interview with Delali Dzirasa as he shares his experience and advice in building a successful business, then be sure to click the links below:
049: Delali Dzirasa, CEO of Fearless with a Mission is to Build Software with a Soul