"I measure success by the number of clients we've helped"

  • Posted by Marina Vatav
  • July 30, 2012 3:07 PM EDT
Born in Haiti, now living in the US, Jean Orelien was named one of the Top 10 Black Entrepreneurs in 2010 and 2011. His company, SciMetrika, is in the top Inc. 500's fastest growing private companies in the US for the same two consecutive years, according to Inc. Magazine. How did he do it?

Jean Orelien left Haiti for Guadeloupe when he was 10, and moved to the US after high school.

Founding SciMetrika in December 2001 seemed to be a natural path for Dr. Orelien. Prior to that, he has worked as a senior statistician and project manager for more than a decade. The suggestion to create his own company came from a friend who noticed that Dr. Orelien is successfully winning business for the company he was working for.

"It wasn't such a big leap for me to take my expertise and to become completely independent," says Dr. Orelien.

Based in Durham, North Carolina, SciMetrika is a public health consulting firm that focuses on conducting scientific studies; developing, implementing, and evaluating public health programs. The projects that the company focuses on tend to be anchored in science or methodology-driven.

Starting and running a company wasn't always easy, but Orelien was motivated. 

"When I started SciMetrika I had a family, a mortgage, and there was a lot of pressure. But the pressure was positive, it wasn't pressure that made you stuck like a deer looking at the headlight. It's pressure that motivates you to work harder; you are never satisfied with the status-quo," said Orelien

Rapid Growth

The small company started growing rapidly. Orelien believes that one of the reasons for their growth is the focus on one area that he and his team were deeply passionate about: Public Health. Meanwhile, his competitors in the government service industry tended to do work in a variety of fields.

"I've always believed that you need to do something that you like, it's also part of my philosophy of life. We are born to serve," says Dr. Orelien.

Over the years, SciMetrika conducted numerous studies on major public health issues. Its customers are federal, state, and local agencies, commercial companies, educational institutions, and private research organizations. The company started growing so rapidly that it would double its revenue every year. In 2010, SciMetrika tripled the size of its headquarters and doubled its headcount.

In 2010 and 2011, it made it in the top Inc. 500's fastest growing private companies in the US with an extraordinary three-year growth rate of 920.6%. Orelien was listed as one of the top 10 Black Entrepreneurs of 2010 and 2011 by Inc. Magazine.

As of today, SciMetrika has 137 employees and offices in Durham, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia. This year SciMetrika's expected revenue is 20 million dollars. However, Orelien considers that this is not their most important achievement.

"Success for me is not so much being in the Inc. 500. I measure success by the number of clients we've helped, and I think we've done a number of great things in terms of being able to work on major public health programs such as cancer or HIV prevention. To me that's success, it's the impact that we've had as a company," noted Orelien.

Haitian values are at the core

Orelien left Haiti when he was 10, but he continued living in a very Haitian environment. He says that Haitian cultural values have affected where he is as a human being and as an entrepreneur.

"In many ways I lived in a very Haitian-centric environment focused on education, respect for authority, respect for God, and the Haitian culture; the resiliency that you don't give up, that you want to achieve the best, honor, respect for yourself, respect for people. Some of these elements are part of every culture, but with Haitian parents there is a lot more structure in their upbringing as opposed to letting you go on your own. That played a big role in my upbringing and probably affected where I am as a human being and as an entrepreneur," shares Dr. Orelien.