As you may already know, September is Disaster Preparedness Month. In line with preparing for disaster, we recently sat down with entrepreneur Fae Shaffer of Refresh Technologies to discuss the ways in which they help businesses prepare for disaster through cloud backup and other cloud services. She shared some great advice for businesses when it comes to preparing for a disaster, and we know you’ll love learning about Refresh Technologies as much as we did!
Fae Shaffer (FS): Refresh was established to build computers based on the customer need in 1999. We moved to a service model in the early 2000’s with the PCs and peripherals that were mass produced around that time. Regarding our mission, I would first say that we don’t necessarily view our work as a mission; it’s more of an approach to meeting business requirements. While we exclusively work B2B, our goals have always revolved around making our business work for our lives and then duplicating that for our customers. We offer solutions based on the business case, but we always have in mind how the solution will ultimately make life and business easier.
CBR: Describe your services and how they help business prepare for disasters.
FS: We have a full consultancy that includes a complete outsourced solution for company IT services. We have a help desk group that services organizations at every level. Our business consulting team is where clients turn when they want to make a big move, like moving from legacy server systems into cloud services. All of these services help companies prepare for a disaster.
This really happened organically. We sought out services and solutions that would make it possible to work from anywhere, even if we didn’t have a laptop with us. We became partners of every big player when they were in beta: Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Force, Intuit–you name it, we were trying it out. We experimented with solutions in different server scenarios in the Amazon space. We deployed virtually any business solution you can think of into sandboxes and saw what would and wouldn’t work. Today, we can make just about anything run in the cloud, whether we point a customer to a product or create a private cloud environment. These very same services and solutions have built-in disaster recovery capabilities. For our business, and for many of our customers, even if the building burned to the ground, we could work. We could take calls, bill, answer emails, look up information, and ultimately rebuild with all of our data intact.
CBR: How would you explain cloud backup and cloud services to business owners who might be new to the concept?
FS: First, I would say forget everything you’ve heard about “the cloud.” It is not enigmatic and it is not public, not for enterprises.
Public cloud pertains to a consumer service like iCloud; we don’t use this space. The cloud and backing up to the cloud in an enterprise computing environment is simply leveraging remote, dedicated server resources. These servers (at least the ones that we work with) are in the most secure data centers on the planet. Google, Microsoft, and Amazon facilities are all built from the ground up and span continents. The security is unparalleled and their client lists include many governmental agencies and municipalities, even NASA. They have been vetted.
CBR: How can Charlotte small business owners expect to benefit from your disaster preparation services?
FS: We present a value to businesses with increasingly mobile workforces: we can protect your assets; we can secure your network. When it’s time to replace your servers, think about going to an OpEx model with cloud services. It is a completely elastic way of allocating resources: hire people, expand; shrink the team, shrink the resources. If you want to expand into new markets without bricks and mortar, this is your best bet. Our edge in this is the fact that we are a team of early adopters. We’ve been deploying cloud solutions since 2007. We’ve already fallen on all of the land mines with these technologies, and we have a solid path to success for a business that is wanting to move to cloud services.
CBR: What are your future goals for Refresh Technologies and its role in the business community?
FS: Our goal is to keep thriving and bringing innovative IT solutions to companies. We service many businesses across the country, but we are from Charlotte. It’s our community, therefore most of our business originates in this area.
CBR: You are working with the City of Charlotte on a grant. Tell us a little bit about it and how you hope it will be beneficial.
FS: We are taking part in a city security grant at the moment. It provides us with funding towards security improvements on our facility. This is important in the pedestrian heavy area we are in. The improvements we were able to make also enhance our qualifications for some advanced security certifications we are working on at the moment.
CBR: Now, Fae, let’s talk a little bit about you. As a partner at Refresh Technologies, you’re an entrepreneur. How did you become involved in this industry?
FS: Refresh was started in 1999 by Nik Fedele. About a year later my husband, Bob Shaffer, partnered with Nik, and that has been the corporate leadership, CEO and COO respectively. I joined the company in 2007 after working in politics and corporate communications. My involvement came from knowing two innovative risk-takers that loved new ideas. I had lots of ideas about the business end of things and what the market was looking for.
I lead the business in the new business development space and services development. Nik and Bob lead the teams that put together solutions to meet those demands we identify. It has worked really well.
CBR: Why did offering disaster preparation services resonate with you?
FS: It was seeing people desperate for their data-sometimes recoverable, sometimes not. In this industry, we see people lose data all of the time. Whether it is a key employee having a laptop stolen at an airport or someone deleting the commission schedule, humans lose data from human errors. Being prepared for these errors, or even for a natural disaster, is crucial to protecting a business. There were better, easier, more automated ways of preventing the eventual disaster of unrecoverable data. We wanted to bring that peace of mind to our clients.
CBR: What advice would you give up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Charlotte?
FS: If you’re starting from a clean slate with your technology infrastructure, go straight to the cloud model. Your investment will be incremental and elastic. Invest in good security on your network. Protect and backup your data.
CBR: Business owners can learn more about your services at www.RefreshTech.com. What’s one thing you’d like for the Charlotte business community to know about Refresh Technologies that they may not already know?
FS: We believe that if we make the end user experience the best it can be, everything else will fall into place. Your business goals will be achieved, your retention rates will soar, and your workplace will be happier. This is a belief that we keep front and center every day, and consequently, our goals are achieved, our clients stay with us, our people don’t leave, and we are happy.