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Navigating the Microsoft Ecosystem to Build a 12 Million Dollar Company: Brian Knight, CEO of Pragmatic Works (Part 1)

Posted on Thursday, Apr 26th 2012

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Brian Knight, SQL Server MVP, MCSE, MCDBA, is the co-founder of,, and is on the principal board of directors of the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS). Brian is a contributing columnist for many industry magazines and sites. He has written or cowritten more than nine SQL server books. Brian has spoken at conferences like PASS, SQL Connections and TechEd and many Code Camps.

Sramana: Brian, let’s start at the beginning of your story. Where do you come from? What is your background leading up to the Pragmatic Works story?

Brian Knight: I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. I started programming when I was seven years old. I was a teenager in the 1990s, so when I was graduating high school I was right on the cusp of the dot-com boom. If you could say the word ‘computer’ you could get a job very fast. It was a great time to be living. It was one of the best times of my life and one of the most stressful times of my life at the same time. I was working for a dot-com and we were working 90-hour weeks. At the same time I was trying to go to college.

Over the years I have made decisions. I could not continue to work those hours while attending college. After I got my associates I left college to pursue more work in the dot-com industry. I did continue to do that type of work, and I worked in the corporate world for a while. About five years ago I started Pragmatic Works. I have been fortunate and blessed to have always had a job. One of the things that I wanted to do when I started my business was to provide opportunities to others who did not have the same opportunities I had. I wanted to be able to find a way to get people into IT who did not have the financial means to get there, and to help them find a job.

Sramana: You wanted to equip people who did not have IT skills with IT skills so they could enjoy the IT career field as well?

Brian Knight: Yes. We have a plethora of jobs in IT. It is not a bad economy in the IT sector. It’s a great economy, especially if you look at my sector, which is business intelligence. There is less than 1% unemployment in my space. In fact, there is lack of skilled labor to fill those jobs.

Sramana: So is Pragmatic Works a training company?

Brian Knight: I was working in the consulting world and we saw a key gap that Microsoft was missing. When you upgraded to the latest version of the database platform, they did not provide you with a way to upgrade a big key portion of the technology. I decided to start Pragmatic Works to build software that would help people get from the old version to the new version of the Microsoft platform. That is how we started. We also offered services around conducting those upgrades. From that client interaction, we realized that a lot of clients did not understand the latest version of the software, so we started offering training courses.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Navigating the Microsoft Ecosystem to Build a 12 Million Dollar Company: Brian Knight, CEO of Pragmatic Works
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