Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: IT consultant has the 3-1-1 on Sacramento computer projects

Published: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013 - 8:32 am

If you'd like a reminder about which day to put out your recycling in the city of Sacramento, Vineet Srivastava has developed a way to help.

Srivastava and his Graviton Consulting Services created the city's award-winning 311 app for the Web and for iPhone and Android devices. The 311 apps, launched just six months ago, and a companion website now handle 5 to 10 percent of residents' requests for help with garbage, dumping, stray animals, parking meters and other services.

When recycling pickup switched from every week to every other week, Graviton added a new feature.

"The city of Sacramento … didn't want people to forget about it," Srivastava said. "You can set up reminders, and it will either text you or email you when it's the day to put out your recycling can."

Gary Cook, who recently stepped down from his job as chief information officer for the city of Sacramento, said Graviton's 311 app won national awards because it sent residents' requests directly to the department needing to do the work. Other cities had apps, but many required operators to sort out where work requests should go.

"I've worked with many other contractors throughout my career that, anytime you have anything remotely not exactly spelled out in the contract, it becomes out of scope or a change order with additional charges tied to it," Cook said. "Graviton was never that way. They always were looking to do what was best for the city."

Although Sacramento-based Graviton does create apps, its main business is helping companies manage their PeopleSoft installations or upgrades. Recently, the company updated Sacramento's PeopleSoft systems for payroll, benefits, accounts payable, accounts receivable and other financial and human resources systems.

Hard workouts pay off

Toting a history degree from Princeton University, Blair Morrison thought he'd find a job working on Capitol Hill for Sen. Dianne Feinstein or Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Boy, is he glad that didn't work out.

An All Metro wide receiver at Del Campo High School, Morrison had spent four years playing football at Princeton. When he didn't land a job as a senator's staffer, he elected to try his hand at being a personal trainer in Washington, D.C.

He developed a full roster of clients and saved up enough money to pursue a master's degree in history from Oxford University. Once he got it, Morrison returned home and opened a CrossFit gym at 7700 Folsom Auburn Road in Folsom in April 2011.

By that time, Morrison was already writing his Anywherefit blog at crossfitmobile.blogspot.com, and 1,000 people a day were checking in to read about his outdoor exploits all across Europe. Morrison claimed fifth place that year in the CrossFit Games, an event that claims to find the fittest athletes on Earth. Also, he had been teaching other personal trainers their craft at Bryan College.

Despite the name recognition, Morrison's CrossFit Anywhere gym was not quite an overnight success.

"I remember my second cousin was our first member, and she lives nearby," he said. "I was showing up and teaching one person at a time, like 6 a.m. classes, one person or two people. … I was able to get five people a month for the first couple of months, and then it was like 10 people a month. Then we ran a Groupon in September of that year, and we doubled our membership."

Because he had reasonable lease terms, he was able to break even in the fourth month. Then he began plowing money back into new equipment and expansion. Fast forward to 2013, and Morrison has gyms in Folsom, Roseville and El Dorado Hills. He's recouped his initial investment, and as a Reebok-sponsored athlete, he leads group tours to France, the United Kingdom and other countries, where he improvises workouts in outdoor locales.

Call The Bee's Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Back columns, www.sacbee.com/anderson. Follow her on Twitter @cathiea_sacbee.

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