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Husband-and-Wife Team Strive to Modernize Business With Custom Technology



When one thinks of the business goals of a technology company, software design and code-writing likely come to mind before flying champagne corks. But at Stickboy Creative (http://www.stickboycreative.com), they're all on the list.

The Fort Myers-based Software Development studio is the quintessential 21st century operation: led by young and daring entrepreneurs, and supported by employees who sometimes sport hoodies and work at standing desks in an open-plan environment. And then there’s the champagne.

Each time a project manager reaches a goal, staffers shake up a bottle of bubbly and uncork it in the parking lot while the team looks on. They measure the distance of the cork’s flight and label it with the date, project honored and distance it flew.

The in-office display of the measurements is a fun reminder of all the business’s accomplishments since its 2007 inception. In those years (excluding a year or so company hiatus), Stickboy Creative has grown from chief executives Reema Bhatia, 35, and husband Matt Bernhardt, 36, to 12 employees total offering three main services: software and mobile application development, digital marketing, and chief technology officer-level management.

The virtual CTO concept offers businesses remote services such as total technology management, implementation of IT policies and procedures, and overall strategic guidance. It launched last year and was spearheaded by Bhatia.

“Helping our clients with creative technology strategy and painless execution is our mission,” Bhatia says. Stickboy employees often work with a client’s board members and C-level executives to achieve results pertinent to the firm’s vision. Stickboy serves a range of businesses, from small- and midsized to large Fortune 500 companies. Bhatia currently serves as CTO for Jet’s Pizza, which comprises 400 locations nationwide.

Bernhardt says Stickboy revenue has grown about 50 to 60 percent each year since 2012, which can be uncommon for businesses that launched in the midst of an economic recession. Contributing to its success was the downsizing of companies, leading to a greater need for automated services to simplify workloads. In addition, Southwest Florida was lacking in high-tech innovation compared to other cities, Bhatia and Bernhardt say. “We never really had a problem attracting clients,” Bhatia adds.

Bhatia, who holds an M.S. degree in digital imaging and design from New York University, initially launched Stickboy on her own with businessbranding experience from a previous job at WINK News. Bernhardt left a land acquisition business to join his wife one year later, with a strong vision of technological possibilities the company could implement.

The pair continue to keep themselves and their team up to speed with the latest advancements by trying to crack their own encryption codes, and absorbing information from major tech conferences each quarter.

“We’re big believers in consuming education and we try to encourage that with everyone who works for us,” Bernhardt says. “Keep learning, keep trying to get better, and push boundaries.”

The ultimate goal, Bhatia says, is “to keep evolving the technologies we’re working with and to make sure we’re always using the latest tools.” Who knows – it may soon translate into a champagne toast.

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