Editor's Note: Each year, we honor a top entrepreneur in our annual Entrepreneur contest. Meet the finalists in the running for Entrepreneur of 2012. Here, a look at Eric Basu, founder of Sentek Global.
After nine years serving as Navy SEAL, Eric Basu, founder of Sentek Global, knows how to run a tight ship. In 2001, with his wife unemployed and his kids in private school, Basu worked doggedly out of his living room to get his business, which provides outsourced staffing to the Department of Defense, up and running. It took nine months, but Basu finally landed his first contract for $70,000. "That was the seed for everything we've done since then," he says.
The San Diego, Calif.-based company, which provides cybersecurity and command and control system services to the Department of Defense, now operates three branch offices in the country and in 2011 generated $18 million in sales. From the start, Basu has tried to run Sentek much as he would a special operations unit, from making sure employees are self-sufficient and able to carry out multiple tasks. In 2010, his leadership was recognized when he was named Most Admired CEO in San Diego by the San Diego Business Journal.
Much like their leader, the company's 96 employees have considerable field experience. They range from IT security and program managers to retired senior military officials to government and business managers.
But beyond recruiting experienced employees, training them thoroughly and fostering a strong sense of company pride, Basu recognizes the challenge of transitioning from military duty to civilian life and is working to make that shift a smoother one for veterans. Basu wants to help end the proliferation of veterans struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder who have taken their lives. In addition to providing resources to employees, he is working to develop a training program where wounded warriors will learn the science of cybersecurity.
"One of the things in the company I'm most proud about is having a creative place where people who are smart, ambitious, and good can come and feel like they are surrounded by like people," he says.