What do you do with a tanked U.S. economy compounded by an increasingly corporatized educational system? If you’re Sally deVincentis, owner of tech firm APTE, Inc., you evolve.
The Evanston resident is an early female pioneer in the field of information technology, where only 11 percent of U.S. firms are owned by women, according to the latest data from IT industry group CompTIA. DeVincentis co-founded APTE, Inc.—a developer of educational products—22 years ago in 1989 after working toward a Ph.D. in Special Education/Psychology at Northwestern University. She enjoyed computers and felt they leveled the playing field for kids with disabilities.
Since APTE, Inc.'s beginning, however, deVincentis has seen the business model change. Whereas there used to be a demand for educational technology products, there’s now a thirst for new technology altogether, and deVincentis makes no secret that she’s disillusioned with education today.
“Before,” deVincentis says, “education allowed good teachers to be great teachers.” Now, she says, “schools don’t have time to buy products to stretch kids’ imaginations, and teachers are too busy to teach.”
Frustrated that her business couldn’t “feed the cat,” she led its evolution to create the APTE Digital Development Studio, which educates government, businesses and corporations about technology issues.
“The federal government is the largest business in the world,” deVincentis says, making it a natural place for her company to focus its strength in making complex ideas easy to understand.
Her firm’s connections with the government began in the 1990s, when APTE was doing contract work to train users of IBM’s Lotus software . That’s when she received a phone call requesting her expertise for something brand new: e-mail.
“This is the Executive Office of the President,” the caller said.
“The president of what?” deVincentis said.
The caller explained that President Bill Clinton’s Executive Offices required assistance with networking.
“Aw, get outta here…” she replied.
It was for real. DeVincentis went to Washington, D.C. to perform network training in the White House Executive Offices, advising the staff how to use a newfangled thing called the Internet. She never worked directly with then-President Clinton, but I can only guess he was busy attending to other more critical matters than email…
Most recently, deVincentis created a third division of her company called APTE Media. Their latest project is an addictive app for the iPhone called Gumball Blast (download it free until the end of June). Gumball Blast is the company’s second app (after Schmixer), which deVincentis hopes will help her company stay relevant in the ever-evolving technological landscape.
But wait. Gaming apps? Has deVincentis scrapped her leanings toward education and technology? Hardly. Gumball Blast players might have too much fun to realize the strategy and multi-dimensional benefits that come from the game, which requires players to match colors with increasing levels of difficulty. Remember the Rubik’s Cube? Anyone with an iPhone and a few minutes to kill will know exactly what I mean.
Plenty of tech companies and products went belly-up last year, but I’m certain deVincentis’ sweet spot is knowing how to stay in the game.