In the early stages of the development of his company, Business Automation Pros, Jabaree Allen was determined to bring his services to all different types of businesses in Tallahassee and help them transition to a paperless system.
A friend of Allen introduced him to Keith Bowers, Regional Director of the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida A&M University (FSBDC at FAMU), who gave him a piece of advice that was instrumental in the overall success of his business. Bowers told him, “In trying to serve everybody, he may not reach anybody.”
“A dear friend of mine, Darryl Jones, Deputy Director of the Office of Economic Vitality, introduced me to Keith and said that the FSBDC at FAMU would be a great resource,” Allen said. “From day one, Keith was very open to helping me out in any way he could. From there, the relationship grew. He asked me what he could do to help, and I put all the things I knew I was having a tough time with on the table. He did what he could and introduced me to people who could solve those problems.”
Allen did have prior knowledge of navigating the technology industry, having graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Entrepreneurship and afterward working for a company that focused on the same software that Business Automation Pros now uses, but for local municipalities instead of healthcare. He picked up on this software rather quickly and was able to use it to create a company of his own.
“When I graduated and learned about the technology, I found it interesting, and I have a degree in Entrepreneurship from Florida State, so I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart,” Allen said. “I decided to leave that company, and Business Automation Pros was born.”
At the onset of COVID 19, Jabaree noticed healthcare facilities needed his services since they could no longer have people crowd waiting rooms to fill out paperwork. With its newfound niche, Business Automation Pros was able to grow tremendously over the last few years. According to Allen, the projected growth for the tech industry is $23 billion over the next three years.
Now in the seventh year of his business, Allen said that during his time at school, he didn’t have many mentors that looked like him and hoped that with his success, he could open the door for those coming behind him and inspire more young black men to pursue careers in technology. He said growing up; he did not receive much support when he showed interest in technology and had to make the conscious decision to overcome stereotypes surrounding black men in tech and have the confidence to stand out and choose his path.
“It is super important for me to mentor and be a leader in this space,” Allen said. “To teach young men in the community that we have this avenue. The goal is to pull young men in through internships and mentors, teach them about the technology world and show them this is how you do this type of business, and this is what the research looks like.”
Although initially, Jabaree did not have many mentors who could relate to him, he says he finds motivation in talking with his business consultant at the FSBDC at FAMU. He understands the importance of not giving up and inspiring others who may come into the industry after him.
“Keith has always been awesome,” Allen said. “He’s been accommodating with more than just the business side. He’s been motivational and like a mentor, telling me, ‘Jabaree, you can’t give up. There will be challenges, and you are the first Black man starting a tech business like this, don’t give up.’ That’s the most important piece of support that he gave me.”
What sets Business Automation Pros apart from similar companies is Allen’s humility in the business. He said a big issue in the technology industry is that companies will sell you a product but won’t teach you how to use it. Allen, however, brings face-to-face, hands-on learning when working with each client.
“That’s a big problem I see in the technology industry is we’ll buy technology and invest in it, but we won’t invest in learning how to use it, or the people who sold it to us aren’t willing to teach us how to use it,” Allen said. “That’s the big difference between my company compared to others.”
Allen takes pride in creating strong bonds with his clients and taking the time to understand their needs. In helping them transition to a paperless data entry system, Allen is creating more efficient and safer work environments for healthcare facilities that have been greatly affected by the COVID 19 pandemic.
Pairing the resources and guidance offered by the FSBDC at FAMU with his education at FSU and prior knowledge about the software used at Business Automation Pros, he has been able to grow his presence within the local healthcare industry. From learning to build a great business model to utilizing the variety of marketing resources available, the FSBDC at FAMU was pivotal in his business surviving the first few years.
“God led me to this, and that is the most important thing! That helped me to pray about it, and God was giving me a vision,” Allen said. “That’s why I was able to come to the FSBDC and meet Keith Bowers and a few of the people at the FSBDC who helped me put things together that I was having challenges with.”