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Small Biz Matters

Welcome to Small Biz Matters, where IBJ discusses issues of interest to small-business owners and entrepreneurs. I'm your host, Associate Editor Andrea Davis.

Small Business

Bitwise reaching back to middle-schoolers

February 16, 2011
KEYWORDS Small Business

Ron Brumbarger never sleeps. At least it’s easy to get that impression with all the irons he has in the fire.

Brumbarger, who runs website developer Bitwise Solutions Inc., actually has more employees, 30, in Ukraine than in Carmel. The Ukraine outpost is staffed with former Soviet scientists and mathematicians who are crack problem-solvers. (If Ukraine ever develops an entrepreneurial culture, the world will change in an instant, he says.)

As Bitwise took on better and better contracts, it priced itself out of reach of small customers. So four years ago the firm started hiring high schoolers for $9 an hour to put up low-budget sites for customers with less money to spend, like handymen and even an African orphanage. Anything to avoid having to tell a potential customer no.

So many younger children wanted to join “Bitwise Fellows” that Brumbarger is now starting “On Deck” for seventh- through ninth-graders.

The On Deck crowd will shadow Bitwise professionals, help with simple tasks, attend meetings and otherwise get a taste of a real-world workplace.

No worries, child labor opponents. It’s only for a couple of hours a month, and no money changes hands. On Deck is simply a chance for kids to volunteer and get a little experience to see if they really want to join the Fellows program.

“It’s kind of like growing the J.V. team,” Brumbarger says.

How do you like the idea?

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