Two months ago, Columbia resident Scott Ewart reached his 14th year working for Montgomery County's Low-Income Housing Authority as a C-level information technology professional -- a job he loved, with people he loved. But Ewart had a new journey in mind and stepped away as chief information officer to focus on his up-and-coming company: ScottE Software Development.
Using his computer-based expertise, Ewart formed the company in 2011, helping businesses in Howard, Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Carroll counties boost their online presence. Within a couple of years, Ewart noticed more business owners coming to him with other technological needs, such as websites and social media.
"It started off, initially, as a mobile app development for iPhones and Androids," Ewart said. "I got heavy into writing apps for politicians."
Using social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, Ewart's "technology scorecards" showed a list of the political candidates with their follower counts, tracking any growth each month. His work quickly grabbed the attention of several political candidates, including Senate candidate Dan Bongino in 2012 as well as current Rep. Mia Love.
"I expanded ScottE Software Development to do a full range of technology services for smaller businesses," he said. "When I say small businesses, I'm talking about businesses that either have a website that's way out of date and they just don't know who to go to and don't want to pay the big guy thousands of dollars to update their website, or some that don't have a website at all and really need a starter, beginner website."
Ewart said. "As CIO, I wasn't very hands-on. Obviously, that's not the job of a CIO. I was in budget meetings and planning … I had always started ScottE Software with the idea that, maybe, I could take this as my own job."
As he attends networking events, Ewart builds a name for his own company, while strengthening the names of his clients' businesses through online platforms.
"A lot of small businesses know that they want to be on social media, but don't know how to do it or, more importantly, how to do it correctly," he said. "I do social media consulting, where I will evaluate what it is they're doing today and train their staff on how to do it to reach the maximum amount of local businesses and local people because it's small businesses you're trying to attract."
One popular misconception of small businesses is to have a large amount of followers, Ewart said. The real issue is not so much how many followers you have, but who are the right followers for the business.
"Business to business works well on LinkedIn and Twitter," Ewart said. "It does not work well on Facebook because you're not reaching businesses; you're reaching people. If you're selling a product, things like Instagram are awesome for businesses because you have a product to take pictures of."
'Touching the buttons'
Elisa Kamens, owner of dog daycare and boarding service Club Pooche in Columbia, said she heard of Ewart's successes from a friend and reached out to him for help with her business' website and social media.
"Social media is not my thing," Kamens said. "I do dogs for a living. … I just learned how to text because all the kids at work text. [Social media] is not anything that I totally want to do for myself and spend that kind of time."
Over the last six months, Kamens said Ewart has "turned my company around with people," revamping her website and blogs in addition to overseeing Club Pooche's Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.
"Scott took the time to come into my business and learn as much as he could so he could give away what he received," she said. "That's important to a business owner. … Where my exposure was, it was very low in the ratings and he has helped changed that and bring it up."
With the constant changes in technology and social media, Ewart said some people embrace the unfamiliar territory, while others are just terrified of it. In cases of the latter, Ewart tells his clients, "I will take care of touching all the buttons."
"What I provide is that personalized, one-to-one service," Ewart said. "I don't have a cookie-cutter approach to anything that I do. I sit down and I find out what a client wants and then tailor around what they want, expand when they want to expand or contract when they want to contract."
It's this relationship that Kamens treasures as she works with Ewart.
"I feel that he really understands the relationship and the intimacy between the client [who does] and the client who doesn't want to be involved in the tech stuff," Kamens said. "He never makes me feel badly about not knowing something. He is supportive. If there's stuff going on and I need to troubleshoot it, he's there. He's more than just tech support or tweeting."
In the early 1980s, then-10-year-old Tennessee resident Scott Ewart had to write a 1,000-word report on the history of computers for his father, Leland Ewart, explaining why he needed the technology.
Leland Ewart, a retired computer programmer, said his son "wasn't too happy" about having to write the 1,000-word report at the time, but they both continue to laugh about the assignment that led to Scott Ewart's dive into technology.
"I wanted him to pick up on the aspect, being the oldest child," Ewart said. "He wasn't happy writing this 1,000-word report, but ... it was important, for me, for him to understand what he was doing electronically as well as the computer software setting."
Ewart said he is proud of his son's accomplishments.
"I support him 100 percent as far as what he's doing," he said.
Like the social-networking world, Scott Ewart said his company will continue to grow.
"I'm talking to small businesses and putting myself out there as much as I can to acquire new small businesses that I can help with my particular skillset," he said. "I'd love to open up a storefront or an office space, but I'm not even close to that yet. My name is out there, but not as much as I want it out there. I want everyone to know ScottE Software."