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Lurita Doan’s drive to succeed is in her blood. Inspired by three generations of entrepreneurs before her, the 45-year-old president and CEO of Reston, Virginia-based New Technology Management Inc., has grown her technology solutions company from a one-woman shop in 1990 to a 150-employee surveillance and security technology firm.
Doan’s foray into entrepreneurship was sparked by frustration. “I had this great idea and I’d gone to my boss. [My boss] thought it was a pretty stupid idea and told me to go back to my cubicle and keep programming,” says the computer programmer. “I was so stunned that I walked out the door and went to lunch and never came back,” she says.
Doan then headed to Kinko’s with $25 and created business cards and stationery. She set up shop as a sole proprietor. To land her initial clients, Doan would stroll through the corridors of federal government buildings asking for work.
“This was before September 11, so you could actually get into government buildings without a pass,” Doan says. She came away with odd jobs working on computer servers and resuscitating dead machines. Her husband, Doug, was an army captain, so Doan did not have to depend upon the business for a salary. Instead, she funneled her profits back into the company. No stranger to enterprise, Doan watched her father work hard to run his own insurance company and her grandmother sweat through running a business school for legal secretaries. She also recalled the legend of her greatgrandmother who would rise before dawn each morning to make pralines and sell them on the docks of New Orleans in the 1860s.
“The one thing I learned from all that is you work really long hours,” she laughs. Three years after starting her company, a pregnant Doan came up with a programming system solution for the Navy. After she finished the job, she was rushed to a hospital where 14 minutes later she delivered her second child.
“The next day, the Navy called me up to congratulate me on the birth of my child and to say that they were really impressed. They figured any woman who is willing to put off the birth of a child to get the network up, they can count on,” she says. The subcontract that the Navy awarded her ($2.5 million) was part of a larger contract worth $100 million. This allowed Doan to hire four employees and expand the company. In 1997, the company won a bid for $17,000 from the U.S. Customs Service to develop a border security solution. Since then, the company has modified the border technology to accommodate other systems.
“We were able to develop the smart border, where we have totally integrated layer upon layer of different types of surveillance technology,” she says. Last year, for example, the company linked the Amber Alert system, which sends out information about missing children, to its border-security system in Arizona. As a result, when Amber Alerts are issued, the company’s database sends the information to all law enforcement