At only 27, Sunny Rajab isn’t exactly your average new-tech software company CEO. “I guess I’m a quick study,” she laughs, with commendable understatement. Rajab runs the Orange County-based Business Communications Solutions (BCS), alongside her husband Reza Khorramian. The company recommends and installs telecommunications systems for small- to medium-sized businesses nationwide. “You want to open a business, our salespeople will come in and assess what you need,” says Rajab, in characteristically upbeat tones. “We handle the installation for the backbone of your network – everything from computer and telephone cabling to the entire IT room.” BCS is partnered with an array of voice and data companies, from Toshiba and Cisco to AT&T and prides itself on providing clients with a tailored approach. “There are a lot of options, but we go out and get the best fit for a particular business,” says Sunny. “It takes a lot of worry out of any initial setup, because we provide a total solution.” She beams. “I think that’s been the key to our success.”
BCS has grown steadily since Rajab and Khorramian pooled their personal savings to launch the company in 2004. They now have 20 employees and annual revenues of over $3 million; last year, the couple made OC Metro magazine’s list of most successful entrepreneurs under 40. The BCS website shows glowing testimonials from clients as diverse as smoothie companies and financial planning firms. For Rajab, her zest to embrace the intricacies of new-tech has played an important part in the company’s rise. “The passion has grown along with my experience,” she says. “The more I know about this business, the more I enjoy it. I love mastering a brief. In fact, I’ve made it a point to learn how to configure all the products and how to handle all the hardware that we sell, even though I’m not out in the field, so I can install the products if I have to. And that oversight goes for all aspects of the business, from human resources to accounting.” She pauses to scrutinize the arsenal of computers and phones arrayed with military precision around the company’s impeccably organized HQ. “If you’re starting a business, you should understand exactly what you’re taking on, how all the bits fit together. I learned that from an early age,” she concludes.
Rajab is the child of entrepreneurs, first-generation Iranian immigrants who opened a Persian restaurant in California; she found herself helping out in the establishment from the age of eight. “I worked all aspects of the business, from taking orders to assisting the chef to managing the payroll to actually managing the place by the time I was 19,” she recalls. “It was the best training I could have asked for. It drilled a kind of all-inclusive work ethic into me.” Her parents later divorced and sold the restaurant to an uncle, but by then Rajab had been offered a sales job in a telecommunications company by the man who would later become her husband. Unsurprisingly, it took her less than a couple of years to “learn everything” and climb her way to the upper rungs of the ladder. “Dealing with new technologies, I added flexibility to my portfolio,” she says. “Just when you think you know everything, a product is discontinued or replaced and you have to start all over again.” Ultimately, however, she found working for others a frustrating experience. “It took so long to make changes in that company,” she recalls, “and when you’re dealing with new-tech, you just have to move at a faster pace, and you need to look to the top for leadership and guidance.” She smiles. “I was so ready to work for myself; I mean, everywhere I’ve worked, I always pretended it was my business anyway.”
Strong Web Presence
Rajab believes that she and Khorramian make a good team: “His strengths are sales and marketing and business development, which is my least favorite part, so we’re very complementary.” But, aside from her obvious qualities as a boss, does she think that working in this industry has fostered a different managerial outlook? “Oh, absolutely,” she says emphatically. “This generation of entrepreneurs thinks in a totally different way. I had a sales rep in my office not so long ago, and she was asking me whether we had a Yellow Pages ad. I’m, like, ‘Hey, 1980 called, they want their mindset back.’ We wouldn’t be in the position we are in if it wasn’t for the web. And the people who ignore it are the ones who don’t reap the benefits.”
To that end, BCS has an array of associated websites, one selling the products they endorse and another “informational” portal on which business owners and entrepreneurs can compare networking, telephone and backbone hardware side by side. But perhaps the most tangible manifestation of the company ethos is the light, airy, open, 6,000-square-foot HQ that they moved into last year, which Rajab had a big hand in designing. “I wanted it to be high-tech and transparent, but not cold,” she says, specifying that there should be a lot of green (“my favorite color, nice and warm”), and that her own office should contain a fully-equipped wet room (“I asked about a sauna, but I just got a dirty look”). Her Chihuahuas, Louis and Lizzy, roam the floors freely; the server room, where each new product is demo’d before BCS agrees to roll it out, resembles a new-tech toy shop. Meanwhile, Rajab, preparing for the birth of her first child, has put as much effort into equipping her home office as the adjacent nursery. “I need to be plugged in wherever I am,” she laughs. “I even figure I’ll keep my laptop nearby through the labor.” She grins sheepishly. “I guess you could say I’m a workaholic, yes."
Keeping Up with Change
The biggest challenge for Rajab and BCS is encouraging her clients to keep up as she speeds down the ever-faster technology super-highway. “Upgrading can be a big bugbear,” she smiles. “Companies really need to change their IT servers every three years or so, and their phone systems every five to 15 years. And there’s a huge flurry of activity every time Microsoft makes a change. Some get really frustrated – ‘If it ain’t broke, why fix it?’, you know. But most see the value. You have to keep up.” That could be Sunny Rajab’s mantra. “Not just to keep up, but to stay ahead of the game,” she clarifies. “I want this company to grow and grow. My high school yearbook quote was, ‘You may satisfy your senses and still not be satisfied.” She says with a laugh and a shrug, “Well, that’s me to a tee.”
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