In the last 10 years, Centreville resident Hitesh Dev, 36, has started three separate businesses, and he’s far from being finished.
“I consider myself a problem solver,” he said. “I am always looking for voids or needs in local communities and then I look for practicable business solutions to fill them.”
As a boy growing up in India, Dev says business solutions, marketing strategies and process improvements were standard conversation around his dinner table.
“I come from a large, diverse, business-owner family,” he said. “My family members were into manufacturing cookies, candies and into movie theaters, just to name a few things,” he said. “My father is the president of the Association of Industries in India.”
Dev says it was this background that fostered his entrepreneurial spirit, but he soon discovered that it also was potentially stifling it. “There were just too many family members in the family business,” he said. “So I decided to go out on my own.”
Dev came to the United States on a student visa as a young man in late 1999, and by 2002 he had earned a Master’s in computer science from George Washington University.
Less than two years later, he started his first business, a software quality assurance consulting company called Tech America. The company has since been renamed Devout Incorporated, a play on his last name. He says he continues to contract out work and the company is successful.
Five years later, in 2007, Dev opened an Indian-fusion restaurant in Centreville called Masala Country.
“I was doing some work with Tech America but I could not get government consulting contracts because I was not yet an American citizen,” he said. “Food has always been my passion, so I decided that in the meantime I would start a restaurant that was not a cookie-cutter Indian restaurant with the same menu and the same paintings on the walls, but instead was more indicative of modern India and modern Indian cuisine; something that was really lacking in Northern Virginia.”
Dev said he needed partners for that endeavor, so he went to a group of Patels.
“In India, the name Patel means ‘the head of a group’,” he said. “I believe it is similar to the English/American name ‘Smith’ which used to indicate that someone had mastered a trade such as a blacksmith or an ironsmith.”
Just last month Dev started up his third business, a local branch of IT service provider franchise CMIT Solutions that will serve clients in Reston and Herndon.
“I was doing a lot of reading about small and medium-sized business being the drivers of the economy,” he said. “As a group they seem to have a lot of potential but they are very much under served. When it comes to technology infrastructure, small and medium-sized businesses need the same tools and support services as large enterprises — just on a smaller scale and at prices they can afford. They need the same assurance that their confidential business data is protected, that their computers will keep running without interruption, and that systems remain free from viruses, spyware, hackers and system failures. They need the same expert advice and problem-solving approach that large businesses receive from high-dollar consultants.”
Although it only started up less than a month ago, Dev says his newest business venture already has two clients.
He claims that although he is very busy these days, he will continue to evaluate his local surroundings and seek out business needs that need to be filled.
“That is just who I am,” he said. “I guess it is in my genes.”