He was an engineer, not a business owner. He was foreign-born and had only been in the United States for 11 years. And he was trying to break into an industry littered with failures.
But Julka, who was born and raised in India and emigrated to the United States in 1972 to attend graduate school, saw the vast potential of personal computers and believed he could translate his experience as an engineer at Eaton Corp. into a viable business opportunity.
The first thing he did was recognize his own weaknesses and seek advice from people with experience.
"I realized I couldn't do it alone," he says. "I just didn't have the background, and you can learn from your peers more than you can learn from anyone else."
So Julka helped form a networking group with entrepreneurs in noncompeting markets. They met several times a year to advise each other on the overwhelming issues facing business owners, and still meet today.
"We're all mentors to each other," he says. "We talk about all of the issues related to business."
Over the past 20 years, Smart Solutions has undergone numerous changes. The technology solutions provider has not only survived the dot-com crash but thrived as Julka has put Smart Solutions' focus on government and education clients.
The company is a two-time Weatherhead 100 winner and was recently named one of The Top 50 Diversity Owned Businesses in Ohio. Julka was also tapped by Gov. Bob Taft to be part of the Management Improvement Commission for the Ohio Lottery.
Julka says one key to Smart Solutions' success is its management structure. The company is not compartmentalized, so every employee handles multiple tasks. Compensation is also tied to profitability rather than to sales.
He maintains that this philosophy forces management to forecast trends, pitfalls and opportunities , so Smart Solutions is better able to manage cash flow and drive higher revenue. How to reach: Smart Solutions Inc., (330) 494-1243