CEO of the Year: Small For-Profit (Tie)

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

If Janova's New Albany office environs are ever really quiet, then something is terribly wrong. The tech company has embraced agile project management, says CEO Jeff Lusenhop, who describes it as "basically a collaborative, iterative methodology."

Instead of cubicles, the office is arranged in open, pod-type spaces where employees--most work in development and product support, marketing and sales or consulting--can easily move around and talk to team members in different departments. "If we sound like a library out there, it's probably not working," Lusenhop says.

Janova, founded in late 2010, offers automated software testing that harnesses cloud computing to provide customers with an inexpensive, offsite means to quickly try out Web-based applications. The company is an outgrowth of Lusenhop's Arc Consultants, which focused on interim CIO and executive information technology management for clients such as Bank of America, Acer, American Electric Power and IBM. Previously, Lusenhop, 58, had worked for Dayton-based NCR, AT&T and Nationwide. In 1999, he started his first company, Connaissance Consulting, a 125-employee, $25-million-a-year business specializing in Siebel Systems software; he sold Connaissance in 2002.

In September 2010, Janova launched its software in beta form to Lusenhop's existing customers, then hit the open market in April 2011. In its first 90 days, 6,000 people signed up for a free trial of the technology, Lusenhop says. In the past year, Janova has more than doubled its staff--it employs more than 40 people, most of them in New Albany--and has served clients such as Farm Bureau Insurance of Idaho and Western Computer Services.

For a business to do on-site what Janova does could cost $75,000 in software and hardware for a 10-seat license, on top of annual maintenance costs of about 20 percent, Lusenhop says. By contrast, Janova's service is available for $10 to $100 per month. And because it uses cloud computing, tests often can be conducted much more quickly, he says. "In these times, that's a pretty interesting message for CIOs and people who are looking to stretch their budgets as far as they can go."

Lusenhop describes his leadership style as one that empowers employees. It's something he developed throughout his career, working with business leaders and seeing what worked and what didn't. "I did not like being micromanaged," he says. A basic tenet to his approach: "My role is to create a vision and to create goals for this organization ... that support that vision and then align the individuals' goals in my company to those."

There's also what he calls his "Lusenhoppian Theory." In short, he says, "Execution is everything. I can sit here and I can dream up the best visions in the world, but if you can't execute, it doesn't mean anything."

Reprinted from the December 2011 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.