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Zenergy Technologies / Chris Laney

The Pitch: Zenergy Technologies helps companies improve their software, ensuring it’s developed correctly and when they release it to their users – whether that is a customer or their own employees – that the software defects have been significantly reduced. There are two sides to what we do. The first is the process side: quality assurance and process improvement , helping companies elevate and mature their processes. The other side is test automation, which is simply software that tests other software. We excel at customizing test automation software to ensure companies get the value out of it. If software doesn’t work right it causes major problems, so this is where the software QA industry gained its foothold.

Chris Laney, Zenergy Technologies
  • Entrepreneur:Chris Laney
  • Age: 44
  • Company: Zenergy Technologies
  • Industry: Software Quality Assurance and Testing
  • Founded: 2010
  • Start-Up Funding: 3 partners each contributed $1500
  • Employees: ~20
  • Hometown: Raleigh, NC
  • Good Reads: Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, Richard Bach
Q: What made you decide to do this? Was there an ‘Aha’ moment?
Chris: We were all with a similar company before (Questcon Technologies) and I ran it as a division of the parent company. I was previously a part owner of that company before selling it to the parent company. My two business partners now, were employees I had hired. At a certain point the three of us recognized how well we ran the division autonomously. We started to ask, “Why aren’t we doing this for ourselves?”
Q: How has Zenergy been able to grow so quickly?
Chris: We’ve been fortunate because my two business partners, Shaun Bradshaw and David Dang, who comprise the technical side of the company, were already widely recognized in our industry. We’ve also been successful networking and relationship building; we take our reputation very seriously. Also, being located in the Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship gives us access to flexible space so that we are able to grow when we have one-time projects.
Q: How did you come up with the name?
Chris: Well, we decided on Zenergy for several reasons. There is a lot of Asian influence in our company. One of my partners is a black belt in Martial Arts, another is Chinese-American, and me – well, I’ve just always liked the Zen philosophy. So that’s how we came up with Zenergy.
Q: Biggest challenge in your business?
Chris: People. Finding people that have the core skills who we can train to do what we do. I have two great partners, and it’s extremely hard to replicate. You can’t just go pick someone off the street that has that knowledge.
Q: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Chris: Part of what is helping me now is my previous business experience. The learning curve was really steep in that business and it was a valuable education. When I became a partner in Questcon we had a handful of employees and in three years we grew to 65 – and then the economy tanked. That experience led me to be cautious when it comes to hiring. You don’t want to overextend yourself and start hiring a lot of people and then have the economy get worse. That said, I think we waited a little bit too long to start hiring some of the overhead staff. I would have done that more quickly, because it just makes you more productive.
Q: Why Greensboro?
Chris: I was really drawn to Greensboro’s thriving arts community –When I first moved here I became involved in the local theater scene with a production of Little Shop of Horrors and Singing in the Rain. Since then I’ve been President of the Board for both the Community Theater of Greensboro and The Creative Center (Formally known as The Greensboro School of Creativity).
Q: How many hours do you work in a week?
Chris: That is hard to say. With instant communication it really doesn’t stop. I’m sending emails at 5am. With that said, the work-life balance is something we really try to maintain, so I try to keep it to around 50 hours per week.
Q: What advice would you give to someone starting out in your industry?
Chris: In general, I would say that you cannot do it all. People think they can, but you just can’t. It’s important to recognize that you can’t do your best when you’re trying to do everything. It’s also important to go into business with partners that you trust so that you have confidence in their responsibilities.
Q: Hobbies?
Chris: My family, I am married and have three boys, ages 8, 11, and a 19 year-old Sophomore at Elon University. I am a pilot. I started flying lessons in 2001. I had always said that I would learn to fly, and after 9/11 I decided that you just don’t know how much time you have left, so I decided not to put it off any longer. Finally, I love to write. I’ve written for Our State Magazine, NC Signature, among others.
So family, flying, writing, and I’m also a fitness instructor at The Club here in Greensboro which motivates me to keep in shape.

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