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Ann Arbor Spark

September 9, 2014

Relium relishes opportunity to stay boutique in software scene

Not every new economy entrepreneur has the desire to build the next software giant. Some, like Eric Shapiro, just want to keep programing cool technology.

The president of Relium has been writing code since the 1980s and launched the Ann Arbor-based software firm in 1987. For most of its life the company has just been Shapiro and an independent contractor or two. In the last few years he added a handful of employees but doesn’t see his company’s staff getting bigger than that.

"I'm a tech guy," Shapiro says. "I'm a programmer. When we scale up to five or so (employees) I become a manager instead of a programmer. I don't like that as much."

So Relium's staff stays at a handful of people. Last year it was five employees. Today it’s three. Maybe next year it will be four. Maybe. Whatever the number Shapirio's team is focused on keeping the company’s current client list happy and its custom software projects done on time.

"I'm vary wary of becoming the pointy-haired boss making technical decision that I don't understand well," Shapiro says. "I would miss being the guys who understands it all."

That means keeping up with the technology curve, which is practically a full-time job itself. But it's what Shapiro and his team like doing. They are currently working on the latest iteration of Weather Underground’s mobile app. To them that is more fun working on something a lot of people will see compared to making something from scratch that will have to fight with a lot of competition for visibility.

"It's just fun that everyone can use our app because it's a free app," Shapiro says.

Source: Eric Shapiro, president of Relium
Writer Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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