Robert Wallace is the founder and CEO of BITHGROUP Technologies, an information technology consulting and innovation firm. BITHGROUP provides implementation services, technical knowledge, and project management support on an organization-wide scale. As a certified minority business enterprise (MBE), BITHGROUP takes an active role in advocating for inclusion in its industry and launching philanthropic efforts through the financing of humanitarian projects in the United States and abroad. Robert and his team have earned numerous honors and recognition such as the Daily Record Innovator of the Year Award (2010), the Baltimore Mayor’s Business Recognition Award (2009), and Maryland’s Top 100 Minority Business Enterprise Award (2009).
Q. Tell us about your background and how BITHGROUP got started.
ROBERT WALLACE: Prior to starting BITHGROUP Technologies I worked for corporate giants such as IBM, Procter & Gamble, and DuPont. My background is in engineering. I have a mechanical engineering and applied mechanics degree. I’ve always worked in technology areas and still do; I think that technology is the engine that drives our economy. I left corporate America because I felt I could do more and do it quicker on my own as an entrepreneur. Every company I’ve worked for—Procter & Gamble, DuPont, IBM—they all provided me a learning experience that’s been very beneficial to me in my own company. But I knew that I had a bigger mission to do a greater good and I could do it faster on my own versus in a big corporation.
BITHGROUP Technologies is the IT part of our business, and was started on paper in the early 1990s—1993-1994. We got serious about the business probably in the early 2000s after 9/11 and we’ve been growing ever since in the information technology sector.
Q. What kinds of technologies is BITHGROUP involved in?
Our band of technology tends to revolve around information technology type skills, so we’re expert at software engineering, biometrics, network engineering and what we call enterprise IT services, but what I would like to be called is a “technology innovator.” We use technology as a tool to solve business problems and help our clients to achieve their mission. And we are very open to acquiring new technologies if it will enable to help our clients to meet their business objectives.
Q. What other ventures are you a part of?
We have an energy company called BITH Energy and we work in three areas: energy information systems, energy consulting, and power generation. In power generation we focus primarily on solar energy and wind energy projects. Last year we were voted the eighth largest solar company in terms of solar development.
Q. Describe what you’re working on there.
What we do there is we design, build, and maintain utility-size solar plants. The large one we built in Maryland is a 10 megawatt plant that we’re building in Howard County off of Route 32. In that plant we are the first and the only company that has instituted what’s called “aggregate virtual net metering” in the state. It’s a big word, but what it simply means is that I can build a solar plant over here but I can sell that power to a consumer or user who’s over there. So, I no longer am constrained as to where I have to build the plant—behind the meter and there on their campus—I can build it in Howard County, but I can sell them power in Baltimore City. And I can do that through aggregate virtual net metering. We’re the first company in the state to implement that model.
Q. What’s your vision for the future? Where do you see the company and yourself going next?
What I want to do is to take the foundation that I have been able to build for the company. We’ve got a great brand—we have great clients, great technologies, and a promising future. But I think that my run as CEO has come close to an end. I think now I need a younger CEO who has the vision, who can take this foundation and launch into a number of emerging technology areas, you know, cloud computing, biometrics, data analytics.
Q. Are you mentoring anyone or developing those opportunities in the organization?
There are a number of things we’ve done. We invested in a company a couple of years ago to follow this model, it was called Mobile Commerce—this is before the app revolution. But this company, this young entrepreneur came to me and said, “Hey I have an idea for a new company.” He came in with a new idea, presented his business plan, and my team now looked at it and said, “You know what? This makes sense.” That opportunity exists right across the board. So I’m looking for other young folks like this young man that we can invest in bring into our company help them grow, help them scale these technologies and be a part of it and hopefully help them to create wealth and jobs.