Biometrix may not be generating huge amounts of revenue yet, but there’s a wave on the horizon for Columbia-owned information technology (IT) firm Creatrix. Biometrix is the company’s service-oriented, architecture-based enterprise middleware that integrates multiple biometric authentication technologies. In layperson’s terms, you walk up to a door and give your fingerprint or your iris —and the door opens, or a computer user can access his or her own files on a shared computer.
“Biometrix has been generating a lot of leads,” said Sami Elhini, president of Creatrix. “There’s a lot of interest. Our Biometrix product line is only 6 months old. We do think that, as we are hitting the market at the right time, it will become a dominant line of business for us.”
For now, the backbone of Creatrix’s business is service: systems integration, systems architecture and software engineering with expertise in biometrics, case management and credentialing.
“We’ll always have the services business,” said Elhini. “I never see that going away.”
To Elhini, designing and developing software is more than just writing code. His creation of new software and software components is guided by his engineering principles — leveraging existing technologies, applying best practices and using appropriate design patterns.
In fact, when customers ask Elhini for solutions, their questions often give him ideas for future products. “I suddenly see a need for something. I start asking: Why do people keep doing a certain thing over and over in different ways when we could come up with one solution? I believe asking those questions keeps us competitive as a corporation. You have to be very good about recognizing what parts are repeatable and can be turned into a service and what can be turned into a product.”
If his services lag behind his latest products, Elhini pointed out, he ends up having a lot of competition and his business becomes very price-oriented. “That’s not always a great way to run,” he said. “That’s why you want to do a lot of consulting work in an emerging industry. It’s a strategic way to be incredibly competitive. We’re looking to do that with Biometrix.”
He believes Biometrix is attractive to many sectors, including the government, finance and health care.
An Entrepreneurial Past
Elhini has a history of entrepreneurial endeavors. In the late 1990s, after a successful run at Sun Microsystems when he was in his mid-20s, he ran an IT company for two years.
When he became an independent contractor again, he was able to piece together enough work to make ends meet. Then Lockheed Martin, which was looking for a software engineer, picked him up as a contractor. That year — 2007 — Creatrix was born. The company is named for his wife, Anna Fleeman Elhini, as she is “the woman who creates.”
Sami Elhini still does work for Lockheed — and after the time he’s spent running his own business as well as working for large corporations, he said he never takes business for granted. “Any day can take any company out of business, regardless of your size,” he said. “Being conscious of that, we really are dedicated to quality. I concentrate on three things: satisfied customers, satisfied employees and profitability. As long as we can manage those things well, we will be successful.”
Advisors TV, a network for entrepreneurs, named Creatrix “A Tech Company You Shouldn’t Live Without” in June 2015. The company also was featured on “Corporate Review,” which aired on Bloomberg TV and Fox Business Network, in recognition of its expertise in biometrics and global identity management.
Formerly a vice president at a large research firm, Anna Fleeman Elhini first started working full-time with Creatrix about two-and-a-half years ago. “My annual salary was good, and we needed to make sure we were gathering enough revenue and profit for me to come over,” she said.
She took over the contract management, personnel management and business development. Creatrix now has five employees, including the Elhinis.
She also made a connection with the Howard County Chamber of Commerce, first by attending a Women in Government Contracting program, then getting acquainted with GovConnects, a business-to-government initiative that enables Chamber members to benefit from the significant growth of the cybersecurity industry and other federal contracting activity in Maryland.
Now she serves on the Chamber’s Strategic Planning Committee. Through this, she has “met a lot of people at the Chamber and on the board” and hopes to “continue to better the business community and relationships among the companies in Howard County.”