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From Cellphones to Kiteboards, Entrepreneur Conquers It All

Published: May 16, 2011 Full Article

Dan Schneider describes himself as a “corporate 5-year-old.”

“We ask ‘why’ and don’t take ‘because we said so’ for an answer,” said Schneider, the founder of SIB Development & Consulting, a firm that pores over its clients’ invoices and other financial minutiae in search of ways to cut their costs.

The company shares in the savings it finds for its clients. Launched in 2008, SIB is on track to earn more than $6 million in revenue this year, Schneider said.

While corporate cost-cutting may seem a little dry, Schneider’s path toward founding SIB is anything but typical.

Change of plans

By the middle of the last decade, Schneider had founded a chain of mobile phone stores in eastern Pennsylvania, which he’d sold. He used the cash to found a wholesale mobile phone company. The company expanded quickly, attracting customers from around the world, but Schneider was burned out. He sold it to a colleague and took an extended vacation.

“For two and a half years,” Schneider said, “I took not working as seriously as I’d taken working.” In his newfound free time, the entrepreneur traveled the world, rode his bike 30 miles a day and discovered a surprisingly meditative hobby: kiteboarding.

Kiteboarders crash through waves on a surfboard-like platform while holding onto a bar connected by four cables to a parachute. The wind lets them slide up ramps and catch some serious air. Kiteboarders find their sport exciting and all-consuming: guiding the parachute and staying above water requires complete focus.

Like many serial entrepreneurs, the business idea generating part of Schneider’s brain has no “off” switch. The concentration kiteboarding requires proved an effective way of helping Schneider forget about business for a while, giving him the perspective that eventually led him to launch his most recent venture, he said.

By 2008, Schneider had settled down – momentarily, he thought at the time – in Charleston, S.C. He visited childhood friends in the city while waiting for a construction company to complete a condo he’d commissioned in the Dominican Republic.

Then, the condo’s construction stalled, the economy tanked, and Schneider realized Charleston might be as nice a place to live as it is to visit. Realizing that many companies would seek to save money during the coming recession, Schneider founded SIB. He said that if it weren’t for the time he’d taken off, starting a professional services company would never have occurred to him.

Proving himself

In launching SIB, Schneider sought more than a useful business whose profits could support him. He also wanted to validate his business acumen: a lot of entrepreneurs made money in mobile phones in the late 1990s, but not all of them could find success in another field, especially during a recession.

“I wanted to prove to myself I can make it in a new industry,” Schneider said. “No one can say it was just the right place at the right time.”

Now, SIB counts Fortune 20 companies, hospital groups and major universities among its clientele. Schneider said that although a vacation is in his future, growing his company is his primary focus.