By David Benda, Redding Record Searchlight, June 2014
Silicon Valley companies like NComputing, Axcient and Tegile Systems have found success in Redding opening technical and sales back-office locations.
These firms have been able to leverage what they believe is a qualified and under-employed workforce to fill their needs. And many of the workers they have hired are Bethel Church members or graduates from Simpson University, a four-year
Christian private school.
It’s no different with Citelighter, a Baltimore-based company that opened a sales office in Redding earlier this year. The company recently moved to a larger space in the Mission Square shopping center on Bechelli Lane.
Citelighter is an online education platform designed for research, writing and data aggregation. The company believes its technology is an ideal complement to the new Common Core curriculum taught at schools today.
Citelighter co-founder and CEO Saad Alam knew nothing about Redding when NComputing founder Steven Ducker suggested to Alam that he open an office here. Alam, 32, grew up in New York and was living in Baltimore at the time.
NComputing opened a sales and technical office in Redding eight years ago. Ducker has since left NComputing but the impression Redding left on him never went away.
“He told me there is this thing in Redding that you need to check out,” Alam said. “He said, ‘There is something magical in Redding. I can’t put my finger on it but I think it has something to do with the (Bethel) church.’ ”
Alam, who has MBAs from University of Rochester (New York) and Columbia (New York), has always believed that people who are that passionate about something have an inherent drive to get things done.
“I have a fundamental understanding that when people believe in something, it allows them to accomplish things that those who don’t or don’t have purpose can’t,” Alam said.
In Redding, Alam has recruited Arieh Murphy and Romulo Perez to held head up his sales team. Both Murphy and Perez worked for NComputing and Axcient. Murphy also graduated from Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry.
Murphy believes Bethel’s global following makes the church a good hiring resource because companies such as Citelighter, NComputing, Axcient and Tegile Systems are trying to penetrate a global market.
Citelighter currently has five employees and Alam would like to see that grow to some 20 workers by year’s end.
The company in May won the Educator’s Choice Award at the annual Software & Information Industry Association Innovation Incubator Awards in San Francisco. Earlier this month, Citelighter was awarded the Best Education Technology Company
at the Maryland Incubator Company of the Year awards.
Citelighter’s software has been used in schools in the greater Washington, D.C., area and Michigan. The company also is talking to schools in the Shasta Union High School District, said Perez, Citelighter’s director of inside sales.
Perez explained that the Citelighter program allows students to organize information as they write. The program is being used by students on more than 1,500 campuses and in more than 50 countries, according to the company website.
Mark Lascelles, president of the Economic Development Corp. of Shasta County, said Citelighter is proof Redding can be a cost-effective alternative for tech companies, especially those in the Silicon Valley. Lascelles believes the North State
can be a back-office tech hub.
But to do that, these companies will need space. Lascelles is working to secure 10,000 to 15,000 square feet that could be used as an incubator for these firms.
“If we can get that nailed down, it would give us the capacity to get more like 20 to 25 of these companies,” Lascelles said. “These things compound each other. . . . They feed off each other. So once we get 20 to 25 of them all working together
at a location, that will have an impact on the economy.”