How many people can say they started their own business at the age of 13? Well, Steven Freidkin '02 certainly can. During his time at JDS, Steve, a self-proclaimed "geek", was not as enchanted with what was being taught as some of his peers and asked the School administration for permission to pursue his passion - - computers. They agreed as long as he kept up with all of his school work and performed well.
Steve often would walk from the Upper School to CompUSA, which was located across the street at that time, and see what was going on. One day Steve was wearing a red shirt, like the CompUSA employees, and was asked technical advice by a businessman who was a customer. Steve's advice was good and Ntiva was "unofficially" born.
Ntiva, located in McLean, VA, provides expert Managed IT Services & Support for businesses looking to offload the burden of managing their critical IT infrastructure. It has grown almost exclusively through referrals. The company prides itself on the unwavering focus of their core values: focusing on customer service first, managing every client dollar as if it were their own, and hiring, developing, and retaining the very best people.
Steve loves technology and is grateful that JDS allowed him to explore what he was passionate about all those years ago and still today. He believes this is one big key to his success. When asked what he learned at JDS that helped mold him into the person he is today, he hesitates, and then says, "That's a really tough question".
Steve goes on to explain that he often felt like he did not fit in at JDS - socially, religiously, etc. But this changed when Rabbi Bienenstock explained to him that "doing something is better than doing nothing". From that point on, Steve had a better understanding that he did not need to conform to fit in, he could appreciate his own Jewish identity, and was not as concerned about doing things the same way he thought everyone else was or wanted him to. These lessons have stayed with him in his professional and personal life.
Steve also credits JDS for helping him learn how to organize his time and develop his strong work ethic. While a student, Steve thought JDS was really hard, and this frustrated him. He then went on to Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and learned that he was much more prepared than his peers who came from other schools.
This year, Ntiva is projected to finish with $35-$40 million in sales, has 190 employees, and a footprint in Tysons Corner, Chicago, New York, Florida, and California. This is a direct result of Steve's work ethic, passion for technology, and the ability to hire the best of the best.
By his side for this journey is Steve's wife Heather, and their three boys, Ethan, age 5, who will be attending JDS this fall, Sam, age 3, and Coby, age 1 ½. "It is important to me that there is a 'next generation of Jews who identify as Jews' and in my spare time, I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how best to do just that.''