Dream comes true for local entrepreneur creates a reality

Dream comes true for local entrepreneur creates a reality

Sunday, March 25, 2007

While he was in his 20s, William M. Bither III ramped onto the information highway with an idea. It's an idea that took hold and today employs upwards of 20 professionals at his technology company located in the Eastworks building, a former factory in Easthampton that once made hair brushes and other home care products. Upon graduating from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York, Bither secured a job in the aerospace industry in Windsor Locks, and for five years, he was a design and systems engineer working on fuel controls for commercial and military aircraft.

While still working full-time at Hamilton Sundstrand, Bither developed EyeBatch, a software program that processes digital images in bulk, now called batch in the technology world.


"You have to have an idea that works," said Bither, 31. "That and hard work pay off. You have to be obsessive about it."

In 2000, he founded his own company, Atalasoft, Inc., named after the butterfly.

In 2003, he left his day job, and hired his first employee to work for him at Atalasoft.

"I just went for it," said Bither said, who credits his success to his wife, Kimberly, who cared for their newborn baby – giving him the time to spend 100 hours a week to work his day job and develop his company at home at night.

During that one difficult year – 2002 – Bither still took a nightly shift of looking after the couple's newborn baby. They now have two young children.

The company, which provides imaging software with an expertise in document processing, is now housed in a half-million square feet of office and retail space, that once was home to Stanley Home Products, located along the Manhan rail-trail path and at the foot of Mount Tom.

Every year since he hired his first employee, his business has doubled. No employee has ever left.

Despite the fact that Boston is the second-biggest designation for software start-ups, he offers seven reasons on his blog, www.billbither.com, why Western Massachusetts is the ideal location to start a business, including cheaper office space, lower salaries, the New England Knowledge Corridor, the great outdoors and loyal employees.

"Small companies like ourselves are blooming. I don't think we're alone," Bither said. While small companies are blooming in Western Massachusetts, Boston's economy booms.

Bither is interested in seeing more companies like his locate in the region and take a place inside the Knowledge Corridor.

He is a recent member to the Springfield-based Regional Technology Corporation, a non-profit affiliate of the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council and charged with grow technology-based businesses. He serves on the group's steering committee that has oversight on the growth and success technology.

Ellen Bemben, the president of the Springfield-based Regional Technology Corporation, says Bither is the second generation of knowledge-based entrepreneurs setting up stakes in the Pioneer Valley.

"He is an extremely energetic member of the RTC," Bemben said. "I just see him and Atalasoft as the rising star in this region with regard to the I.T industry (information technology and software development). He is on his game. He has a plan and he is on it."

"He absolutely knows where he is going and how he is going to get there," Bemben said.

"He is the ideal of the type of company we are attracting to the region," Bemben said, "someone who is young, growing and taking advantages of the resources available."

The chairman of the Regional Technology Corporation board of directors is Palmer native Keith M. Parent, who started Court Square Data, located in downtown Springfield, with two business partners in 1995. Parent eventually bought out his partner and now employs close to 100 people at the main office in Springfield and at offices in Connecticut and New Jersey.

Court Square Data manages the infrastructure of 4,000 servers in the pharmaceutical industry and the company's programming allows scientists to advance their research by helping to collect and analyze data.

"Today by using computers, they can find the drug candidates or the compounds much faster," Parent said.

Despite the region's economic woes and its decayed manufacturing base, Parent is positive the future is promising.

Parent majored in biology and had thought about becoming a doctor. He earned a master's degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Bither's alma mater.

"I absolutely see the Springfield area attracting a totally different economy over the next 10 years," Parent said, "we will morph from line manufacturing to a new style particularly around medical devices."

Parent believes that information technology will also drive the region's economy.

So does Bither.

"You are going to see more technology here and that to me is the future," Bither said.


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