VIRGINIA BEACH — Jeri Prophet has come a long way from her small hometown in Colorado with five paved roads and a high school graduating class of 21 students.
Prophet, CEO of IntellecTechs headquartered in Virginia Beach, was named the 2022 Small Business Person of the Year for Virginia by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“There are so many businesses in Virginia … to win it is surreal,” Prophet said. “The most important part is knowing that I’ve helped people along the way and hopefully made a big difference in some of their lives.”
This year’s theme, “Building a Better America Through Entrepreneurship,” focused on award winners from all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; and the Virgin Islands.
SBA head Isabella Casillas Guzman said in a news release that the winners represent the vibrancy and resiliency of the nation’s 32.5 million small businesses.
“Entrepreneurs are innovators and creators at their core, delivering the products and services we depend on and making our neighborhoods, towns and cities more vibrant places to live and work,” Guzman said. “They give their all to achieve their American dream of business ownership and, by doing so, advance America’s economy and global competitiveness.”
Prophet, a Navy veteran, founded the professional software development and managed information technology services company in 2008. Rooted in the Hampton Roads community, the company grew from one employee to about 300 with multiple locations in 28 states and five countries.
In the early years, Prophet hadn’t envisioned herself as a business owner. Now almost 15 years later, IntellecTechs supplies and supports all of the U.S. embassies and has clientele worldwide.
The mother of two sons, Samuel Spayde, 27, and Michael Prophet, 17, said she was busy going to college to earn her bachelor’s degree and Master of Business Administration back-to-back while raising her sons as a single mother and building her company. Spayde has been involved with the company since he was 15 and is IntellecTech’s director of finance.
Eager to help fellow veterans, Prophet said more than 70% of her employees are former military personnel.
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In 2009, she started the initiative, Mentoring Our Veterans into Tomorrow (MOVIT) to help transitioning veterans and wounded warriors with education and employment opportunities. That same year, she also created NowHiringVeterans.com where employers can post career opportunities for veterans for free.
“Employers will come to me stating they want to hire veterans, but they just don’t know how to do it,” Prophet said. “I tell them, ‘There’s no system. Just hire them.’”
Eager to help other small-business owners, Prophet hosts seminars and speaking engagements about different topics, including social media and cybersecurity issues.
Interns join IntellecTechs from Norfolk State and Old Dominion universities every summer. The company sponsors holiday toy drives yearly and church baskets.
And it is this work and more that led to Prophet’s selection for the award.
“It is what IntellecTechs does for the community and especially veterans,” Guzman said. “Small businesses do a lot for job growth and the economy, but it is the impact in the community that is their business legacy.”
Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, [email protected]