GenXYZ Top Five: Michael Pytel, NIMBL
Young father used warehouse-clerk job as stepping stone to his own IT company
At 18, Michael Pytel was a new father and reluctant college dropout working as a warehouse clerk to pay the bills. It was actually an improvement over his previous job.
"I was assembling zippers," says Pytel, 33.
There was no place to go but up. So that’s exactly where Pytel went.
"IT was deploying a new system at the warehouse, and I took to it pretty well," Pytel recalls. "They asked if I would train other people, and I said, ‘Sure, I’ll train everybody.’ A year later, they asked me to work on the help desk."
Pytel bounded up the ladder, going from clerk to manager to SAP solution engineer for a large staffing corporation. He and business partner Yosh Eisbart grew the technology piece of the company from nothing to $30 million.
"Yosh and I were sitting in a plane in Salt Lake, and I said, ‘We could do this exact same thing for ourselves,’" Pytel says.
That was 2008. They founded their company, NIMBL, in 2009.
Three years later, Pytel and his partners have turned a $2,000 investment into projected 2012 revenues of more than $6 million and a work force of more than 50 consultants. Pytel says he adhered to a simple piece of advice along the way.
"Spend less than you make," he says. "It seems like a lot of startups start with debt, so out of the gate, they’re already under water. We didn’t bring a product, we brought a service, which is easier to start with little or no debt. We live by the philosophy every day."
Pytel credits his dad with instilling a strong work ethic, and other mentors with helping him on the business end along the way.
"Michael’s drive and determination have enabled NIMBL to become one of North America’s fastest-growing and sought-after SAP professional services firms," says one of those mentors, SAP expert Joshua Blair, who nominated Pytel as a top Gen XYZ young professional.
"Michael believes strongly in walking the walk," Blair says. "While philosophy is important, his actions speak volumes. Michael sets a powerful example to other young business professionals."
At NIMBL, Pytel instituted a "pay it forward" corporate-wide initiative focused on encouraging employee participation with charitable and nonprofit causes. His personal favorites: We Don’t Waste, and the Center for Immigrants and Immigration Services (CIIS).
NIMBL provides basic computer training for CIIS clients; as a board member for We Don’t Waste, Pytel contributes technical expertise to the organization’s mission of bringing surplus perishable food – what’s left over from a Bronco’s game, for example – to community groups and food banks.
"Michael approaches his passions – including NIMBL – with a ‘leave it all on the field’ mentality," Blair says. "He absolutely loves what he does and believes everything produced is a reflection of the individual."
For young people who want to replicate his success, Pytel – now a father of three – suggests choosing a higher-education path carefully and learning the ropes on other people’s dime.
"Choose a university that is known for seeding graduates in corporations and companies. Identify schools that have fantastic internship programs or study-abroad opportunities," he says. "Students learn a lot of theory, but they need to put it in practice. Even if it’s entry-level, get a foothold in a successful company – and learn everything you can."