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MicroSnap markets computer instruction

The company produces courses for Microsoft systems engineering or other computer specialties.

By CHRISTINA K. COSDON

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 14, 2000


SEMINOLE -- Jim Stott and Rob Faber have started a new business, MicroSnap, that provides educational tools for training in computer work.

The men were working in the computer industry when they decided to form a new venture as equal partners. Their initial total investment was $15,000 to open their doors seven months ago.

MicroSnap focuses on comprehensive self-study courses for preparation as a Microsoft systems engineer, PC service specialist (A+ certification) and specialist in designing and installing Network components (Network+).

Faber, 37, a Tampa native and company vice president, previously owned and operated a business specializing in building and repairing computers.

Stott, 36, who lives in Seminole and is company president, worked for other businesses selling a similar educational computer product. "What they offered was basically text on a CD," he said, "something you could read out of a book with questions and answers. But it didn't prepare people for real work experiences in the field."

That's what MicroSnap aims to do, Stott said.

MicroSnap's training features digitally produced full motion/audio CD-ROMs or videos. The instructor-led, multimedia courses "walk clients through tasks they would be doing on the job," Stott said. "They also provide simulation exercises for the clients to perform themselves.

"We found that people learn and retain better if they can see, hear and do," Stott said. "All those elements together create a higher learning retention."

Computer specialists are in great demand, Stott said, "That's part of the success of our business." According to industry figures, salaries for the Microsoft certified systems engineer have risen nearly 12 percent since 1997 with average salary figures last year at $76,800, Stott said.

MicroSnap's educational package allows clients to work at their own pace and includes e-mail or telephone support during the training process.

Stott said the Microsoft course is approved by Microsoft, which "requires that you follow a certain step-by-step progression of instruction. They do have their own instruction. But we have found that some companies that make a specific product, in our opinion, don't always give the best instruction."

He said MicroSnap is a member of the Computing Technology Industry Association that gives the certification for the other courses.

The first month of business produced revenues of $20,000, Stott said. "Now we're up to $80,000" monthly, he said. The business at 10601 Belcher Road has 20 employees, he said.

Company clients have included vocational rehabilitation programs for the states of New Mexico, Wisconsin and Massachusetts, Stott said.

"We have signed on customers ranging from individuals who want to increase their marketability in the job market to schools in California, Disney, MD Anderson Cancer Research Center in Texas and the FBI," he said.

Cost of the Microsoft certified systems engineer course is $2,495. Cost of the A+ Certification and Network+ is $795 for each.

MicroSnap can be found on the Internet at http://www.microsnap.com.

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