What Do You Do, and Who Are You?
So, here at Wildcard, we have an issue. Here I am. We hire people. We land contracts with customers and clients, but just about everyone asks, "What do you do, and who are you?" So I'm going to try and give an answer to these questions.
Well, to answer this requires an answer based on history. Before you can find out why we do what we do, you have to ask "Where do you come from, and how did you get here (in business and in life)?"
Let's start with "Where do we (Wildcard Corp.) come from," and, well, "Where do I come from?" I was born in the state of Wisconsin, but spent some time in Texas as a baby, and eventually moved to the Central Wisconsin area when I was five. I've lived in several communities, and have gone to school in Wausau, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids. I went to college in Madison, UW Stout, and then finished off at UWSP. As a staff member, my mother had the fortune of granting me my degree on stage.
I paid for college, and worked my entire educational lifetime, without loans. I stress this, as it's important to me. 1. Wildcard has no angel investors. We have no 'seed' money. We don't loan money. We are not your normal small company. But I digress. Let me get to that in a moment. During college I worked at a bank, for UWSP, and eventually for Georgia Pacific Corp. as an intern for a few years before graduation, after which I was hired full time. I've only had two loans in my life. 1. A loan for a car to commute to college. 2. A loan to buy a duplex, (live in half, rent half), which, again, is important to remember later.
I've been doing IT support, and website development, Web 'Mastering' as it used to be called since 1998. My first foray to the online world was in 1993. I ran a small technology consulting operation advertised locally by word of mouth from about 1999 to about 2004, when I moved to Washington DC, to work at a federal contractor with an old college roommate.
I had aspirations, and locally it wasn't happening in the BIG corporate culture of GP(Domtar), and later at the Federal Contractor. I worked at this Federal Contractor for a few years, but in 2007 I noticed something. I was being asked to swoop in at the last moments on every Contract they won. I was the "Bobs" evaluating talent, and fixing projects that weren't completed. I have spent hours waiting to get approved, added to a contract, to get access to a data center, to fix a problem that $500-an-hour consultants didn't fix in months.
I finally took issue with this and started Wildcard Corp. in October, 2007. Long story short, after I resigned from that federal contracting company, they hired me back as a consultant. I helped maintain Top Secret networks, fix issues, and solve problems. That lasted until 2008...ish...when I helped win a contract for DHA Inc. with the DOJ/FBI maintaining and facilitating their public-side web, DNS, and CDN systems using this Content Management System called Plone. This was part of a software package that I had deployed in 2002 for GP to do paper color and weight lookups between mill locations.
We won, and two years later in 2010 I moved to Wisconsin, so that Wildcard Corp. could compete on the hosting, coding, and maintenance side of the contract. For this piece, we bid as a subcontractor partnered with another company, and we won. At this same time I was fortunate enough to recruit Nathan Van Gheem to come on board and help with Plone engineering. We've been working together since.
In 2015, after doubling in size each year, we competed on the FBI.gov contract as the prime contractor and we won that, too. Our contracted role was to manage the systems, a role we had unofficially been undertaking already for five years.
Which brings us to today, and the original question. "Why?" Well, "why" is answered by the above. We are filling a niche to provide superior, security-centric, cutting-edge, right solutions, with the right technology. Do not shortcut. Do the right thing. Help the little guy. Follow the motto of our largest customer: Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.
- Fidelity - Be loyal to your employees. Be Loyal to your customers. Do what you say you will do.
- Bravery - Push the limit of technology and web systems. Come up with the solution, and don't be shy to explain yourself.
- Integrity - Be ethical in your solutions and business dealings. Give credit where credit is due. Do what's best for the customer, and your employees, which may not be what's best or easy for you.
These are things that I've seen that LARGELY are not present in the federal contracting arena. I've had rates on contracts negotiated down AFTER I helped win projects. I've seen back door deals go around me. I've seen things that are largely based on who you know, not WHAT you know.
This is why. Wildcard was built to be a company providing technology. Sure. But let's do it the right way. We do open source here. I have an open source solution for everything that you could license from another company. We provide back to the community: online and local.
My words have been quoted countless times, and they are even written on the sign hanging behind me right now: "I'm a problem solver." I'm an idea guy. I like to solve problems with Solutions.
The original logo, which is on the lead image here, was built around the idea of solutions. Wildcard "targets a solution."
Our strengths, clichéd as it sounds, are our people and technology. I wanted to build Wildcard using my strength in technology, and reinforce that with the strength of like-minded people. So let's categorize and explain our strengths in a few bullet points:
- We do not sub-contract people resources - We have on-staff Programmers, Full Stack Developers, User Interface Designers, a Graphic Designer, Proposal Coordinators (one a Communications major, and one an English major), we have network engineering, we have Cyber Security, we have Programmers that are now System Admins. We have a 50% former military staff-base. We cover a gamut in possible services, all in house. Again important to me, and to us. To be able to have in-house, EXPERT resources in their areas, and some that soon will be. We hire on those that have a drive and a desire. We have a near zero turnover rate. We like to retain resources and make them happy.
- Technology - We have solutions that can replace everything you see out there that Microsoft has, without licensing, all using open source software.
- Distributed Storage system, checksum for data integrity? Check
- Enterprise Content Management System with too many features to LIST? Check (go to www.plone.com) and/or our soon-to-be-public Castle Cloud and Castle CMS, based on what Plone started.
- A web application stack starting in Python and ending in awesome developers and engineers? Check
- Phone Systems? Check
- Small Business Web Landing Pages, CRM, Ecommerce, credit card processing? Check
- Network Intrusion Prevention/Detection Systems? Check
- Virtualization and Distributed Storage for Scaling? Check
Ask me sometime to compare what your current solution is (and what someone has sold you into), and I'll give you a better solution for less cost, and why.
What are our strengths? We love technology. We love solutions. We love creativity. We love making your systems... better... (sorry that sounds a bit like a BASF commercial)
Our weakness is on a few levels:
1. We need to market better. We are in the process of formulating our message on our capability and on our abilities. Our weakness lies in our (in)ability to converse with our customer base, which makes it hard to expand our customer base. Being technology people with years and years of experience, we sometimes forget that not everyone understands our technical language.
2. I am not a classically trained CEO. I'm here because I'm the founder of Wildcard. These reins will go elsewhere, and I will hire the people to replace me. I like technology. This CEO business can be, well, time consuming. With the our latest reorganization, we are getting over our growing pains and prepared for the future.
3. We need to market better. Seem redundant? It's not. Marketing a company is more than TV and Radio ads. It's social interactions. It's every employee and person finding opportunities for Wildcard to help provide solutions. Regardless, you will soon see advertising running for us.
What is your niche and/or sweet spot?
We provide secure content management systems including DNSSEC, IPV6, highly scalable, highly redundant (100% up time over 5 years ), highly searchable, easy to use web applications. We have capability to make Federal.gov systems FULLY DNSSEC, IPV6, DDoS, and SSL compliant to FedRamp, NIST, DOJ, and FBI standards.
We are the ONLY ones that provide a full A - Z solution doing the above. Managing domain registration to DNS, security, content, and custom web application development. We provide social media, and content record keeping compliance for all federal standards of record keeping.
In which markets are you most visible?
Here is where we start getting really short. The truth is, we are not visible in almost ANY. Our direction has been to pull clients from RFP's and proactive submit proposals. We do not market, advertise, or otherwise provide our message to the general public. At least not yet. For the most part, people in the federal government know us by association to the FBI public web infrastructure.
In which markets do you want to be more visible?
We want to recruit and provide services to more federal, state, and local government entities. We want to provide services to non-profits, such as CiviCRM and other web systems.
I'd like to be more visible providing services that make Federal entities compliant with SSL, DNSSEC, and IPV6 mandates, as well as providing them full managed, hosted, feature-full, and secure content management systems.
What is your vision for Wildcard Corp.?
To provide leading solutions to a multitude of entities where our innovative technology approach and custom web applications can create a better, more streamlined and engaging user experience, while lowering cost. This shall be doing websites, and small to medium and large (SML) technology support services, including cyber security assessment, and compliance to federal and other standards such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, FedRAMP, OMB, etc...
What do you want Wildcard to do in the future?
I'd like to see us contribute more to the community, to develop out leading web applications and provide leading solutions. I'd like us to provide these solutions to SML and government entities. I'd like to start marketing and refining our message to the public.
We are developing out plans to provide secure processing facilities, as well as developing out our own computer data center and hosting solution, via managed services, i.e. outsourced IT locally.
I'd like us to develop our people and enrich their lives with education and knowledge.
I'd like us to succeed and provide a better Information Technology environment to, well, anybody.
...and most important of all, or, well, pretty important, I'd like to see us succeed without the loans, leveraging, and other financial concoctions of 'start ups'.
So, what do you do?
This one I added. Let's sum up. What does Wildcard do? 'Cause, really, above I skirted the true question: What does it all boil down to? What DO we do?
Let's start with what we've done, which will have to, of course, have examples and cool websites to go to! We've hosted, designed and maintained these sites and others under the direction and lead of our clients and customers, including DNSSEC, IPV6 and SSL before it was cool...
- Hidden URL for Recovering Native American Artifacts
- DDOS Mitigation and Web Application Firewalls (Ask me sometime about the Crazy Ivan)
- Content Delivery Network Integration and Monitoring
- Web Applications
- Knowledge Sharing Industry Application Hidden URL
- https://delivery.fbi.gov (sending up to 1 million email messages a day)
- Customer relationship management
- Law firm websites
- Non-profit websites and credit card processing
- Telephone Voip System deployments (SIP/IAX2/Asterisk based)
- System Cyber Security Penetration Testing
- DNSSEC, IPV6, SSL (I've mentioned this a lot... it's important)
- Retail websites and landing pages & SEO
- Social media: Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter account management
- Network deployments and maintenance
- Massive scalable data storage system fault tolerant, and free (CEPH block storage)
- Virtual Computing Deployments/Hypervisors Hosted Clouds, and Onsite Clouds (KVM/Linux/FreeBSD based)
- Small Medium Large Business Workstation and Server monitoring and patching
- Managing 4+ data centers and hundreds of Servers
- Systems 100% uptime with 100s of millions of requests on average
- Log and request processing and analysis and analytics of BILLIONS of requests during attacks, DDoS and others
- Health provider search system for businesses via Coalition Services custom web application
- Some really cool custom Two Factor Authentication software to front ALL inbound traffic to your web application called Factored... removes the need for RSA/EMC agents
- Many others...
Sum It All Up
So what DO we do? I'm not sure... what do you need done?
-Talin Senner, CEO