Some people are born innovators. While most of us can identify problems, it is this remarkable minority that goes a step further and works actively to find solutions. Their vision of bigger, faster, better and more reliable products and services improve every facet of our lives, every day.
That innovative bent is what drives Richard Rabins.
The Innovation Habit
Richard’s affinity for crafting pioneering solutions is a family trait, as is entrepreneurship.
In the 1990s, the Rabins family built a software company from the ground up. Their product was a rapid application development platform that was sold using direct mail. After distributing over half a million licenses, they sold the company.
However, the desire to innovate remained. About a decade later, as the trend of a departure from Windows to the web accelerated, they realized that mobile technology faced the very same issues of complicated applications development. Only this time, the problem was even more dire because mobile apps are significantly harder to develop.
“Apps must work offline, they must work on small screens, support rich media and there is the requirement to operate with one hand with no keyboard or mouse,” explains Richard as he discusses the challenges.
“We saw that the existing solutions were complicated and time-consuming. They had been designed with professionals in mind – you had to be highly-skilled to build business apps.”
On the other hand, Richard’s focus was on the average user and his goal was to dramatically expand the base of people who could build these apps.
It was then that he met Joe Alsop (founder of Progress Software) and Dan Bricklin (co-inventor of the first spreadsheet Visicalc). Incidentally, they were interested in solving the same problem. Dan, in particular, had a knack for finding elegant but powerful solutions to complex problems.
“We found that together we had the key ingredients in terms of right people, the right experience, and funding to pursue this venture,” recalls Richard.
Founding Alpha Software
The fruit of their collaboration is the Alpha Software Corporation. Alpha software offers the only unified mobile and web development and deployment platform with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” modes.
This unique feature allows line of business (LOB) professionals to work in parallel with IT developers on smartphone apps. This eliminates the traditional bottleneck in the mobile app development process and accelerates digital transformation.
One of the key concerns that defines the digital age is security, and Richard’s team has worked proactively to develop an effective solution. The result is their Alpha Anywhere platform.
Alpha Anywhere gives IT developers the power to add additional security or authentication features to protect corporate data.
Richard is an accomplished leader and drives the company’s strategy with a focus on global growth.
He served as CEO of SoftQuad International from 1997 to 2001. Richard is one of two co-founders of the Massachusetts Software Council (now the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council), the largest technology trade organization in Massachusetts.
He has served as its President and Chairman. He has served on the boards of Silent Systems, Legacy Technology and O3B Networks. Richard’s experience in the industry includes the role of project leader and consultant with Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), and of management consultant with Management Decision Systems, Inc
Richard holds a Master’s degree in System Dynamics from the Sloan School at MIT. Prior to that, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s degree in Control Engineering from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.
That extensive executive experience and formal education does not detract from Richard’s true personality as a warm, positive, and supportive leader. He has a penchant for bringing that warmth and flexibility to work and creating an environment that fosters innovation, cooperation, and outof-the-box thinking.
An example is his desire to bring his Irish setter, Clifton, to the Alpha office every day. His efforts have made the company a dog-friendly workplace. Clifton has now been promoted to ‘Chief Sniff Tester’, a role that they actively advertise. This unique strategy makes Alpha much more relatable and helps nurture existing business relationships as well as forging new ones.
Richard is always eager to share to share his strategies for leadership that promotes individual development while stimulating company growth.
“At the end of the day, it is all about people,” he says.
“Good leaders remind their colleagues that office politics is akin to civil war – it weakens the organization and resources that would otherwise have been devoted to everyone’s success are squandered. By focusing on the real competition out there, every employee’s skills and abilities strengthen the company, lay the groundwork for personal and professional progress, and make a real difference to the industry and to the world.”
Richard believes that a good leader has to have the ability to manage his or her team’s focus and to use that focus to win the battles that matter.
He also assesses leadership by an individual’s hiring skills. “Be willing to hire people with more knowledge and skills greater than yours,” he adds, “Don’t be threatened by bringing in super-talented people.”
Richard’s spectacular success in his professional life is a testament to the fact that his approach really does work.