A Conversation with Brad Scott, Local Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Brad Scott, an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation and chief executive officer of Cetan Corp in Chesapeake, Virginia, turned an initial investment of $5,000 in 2007 into more than $11.43 million by 2012. So it’s no real surprise that the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce in Virginia named him the 2013 Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
Cetan Corp specializes in enterprise software solutions and related professional services for government and commercial organizations. The company boasts a growing client base of more than 300 customers across the Americas and Europe, among them: The Library of Congress, U.S. Army, GNC, Novartis, Ernst & Young, Williams-Sonoma, Weight Watchers and Accenture.
Scott, 39, attributes much of his success to the support of his family, particularly his grandmother Pearl Carter Scott, who at age 14 became the youngest solo-pilot in America. Pearl Scott would also later become one of the Chickasaw’s first tribal legislators and a member of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame.
Taking to heart his grandmother’s spirit of achievement, Brad Scott himself served nine years in the U.S. Army and National Guard, honed his skills in the IT corporate world and founded Cetan Corp, named after Čhetáŋ meaning ‘the Hawk’ in Lakota. In 2011, Inc. Magazine declared Scott the No. 1 Native American Entrepreneur of 2011, and Cetan Corp was ranked 119 in the Inc. 500’s list of fastest growing companies.
Shortly after his acceptance of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year award last week, ICTMN spoke with Brad Scott about his inspirations, the secret to his company’s success and his advice for young entrepreneurs.
What does this new award mean to you?
At Cetan Corp. we have received a number of awards, and I have received a number of awards personally. It’s a true honor, especially when you're looking around the room with all of the other business folk who are local to this area.
What does Cetan Corp do?
We are an IT solutions company that works with customers to match solutions and implement technologies to solve their complex business problems.
What do you think is the reason for your success?
With anything, with being an entrepreneur, you can't do it alone even though the term typically means one or [that] one person has started a business. It really takes an entire ecosystem, which includes myself, my wonderful family, my beautiful wife Mickey who has been with me every step of the way. This starts from my upbringing and my heritage.
In Cetan Corp. everyone has true entrepreneurial spirit that we embed in our culture. They really think outside the box in really wonderful ways to solve our customer’s business problems. I also interact with other entrepreneur organizations. We get together and share ideas regarding the good, the bad and the indifferent. This has really helped our success.
How is your entrepreneurial spirit connected to your heritage?
As a registered Chickasaw Nation Native American, I really rely on my heritage and what was instilled in me by my father and his mother Pearl Scott. If you think about our culture, we are very proud people, we are hard-working and always look for ways to give back and share. I think it is very important that we need to embrace and work hard to keep our culture. We need put that culture in our business as well.
How has your family been instrumental in your success?
My grandma Pearl Scott, one of the first female aviators and the youngest solo pilot in the United States, always instilled in me as a young kid certain things. She told me one time as a kid, "Brad, don't let anything hold you back, regardless of sex, religion, ethnicity or your level of education or experience—and above all, never give up."
I think that is very key. That came to me through my grandmother, through my dad and my mother to myself. You have to remember, when times get tough, never give up.
What advice would you give a young, Native entrepreneur?
If you think about starting a business and being an entrepreneur, I think one of the things to do is to do it. You need to start. Too many times, the scholars say you need to create a full business plan, you need to map out where you need to be in 25 years—all of that is well and good, but if you don't take the first step and take your first dollar, or borrow a dollar from your neighbor, or go cut grass for your first dollar to start your business, if you don't take that first step, it will never happen.
Once you take that first step, keep in mind there are going to be highs and lows in the business. Sometimes you are going to feel everything is great and the next minute you’re going to feel like the bottom fell out. But always keep in mind to keep pushing forward and never give up.