Paying it forward in the IT business
Boston CEO wants to open doors for minorities in the tech field
After working in the information technology industry for 13 years, Reinier Moquete witnessed the emergence of cloud computing and founded Advoqt Technology Group in 2012 to help usher companies into a new era of easier, cheaper and quicker data storage and protection.
“Our goal is to be at the intersection of cloud computing and cyber security,” said Moquete.
Advoqt, pronounced as “advocate,” comes from the company mission to be a strong proponent for clients’ technological needs, while the “qt” is a nod to Moquete’s name.
Moquete was born in New York City and spent the majority of his childhood traveling back and forth between the Washington Heights neighborhood of his hometown and the Dominican Republic. Moquete moved to Boston in 1999 to start fresh and pursue his childhood interest in technology engineering.
“As a kid I was tempted by certain dark elements of street life,” Moquete said of his life in New York. “I lost many friends to violence or prison. I had to work hard to put that behind me and get myself into college.”
Moquete attended Bunker Hill Community College, obtaining associate’s degrees in finance and business administration, then graduated from Pace University with a degree in telecommunications. He worked for various corporations over the years and then, struck out on his own.
“I saw an opportunity whereby a lot of companies were thinking about cloud computing but weren’t sure how to execute it and capitalize on it,” Moquete said.
The Advoqt Technology Group includes 17 employees and 30 contractors, and is certified as a Minority Business Enterprise and a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise. As CEO, Moquete emphasizes social impact as one of the company’s main goals.
“We believe in paying it forward,” he said. “We want to invest in people who are then going to make the same investments for the next generation.”
In 2010, Moquete co-founded Latino STEM Alliance, a 501(c)(3) organization that engages underrepresented youth in science, technology, engineering and math through afterschool programs. Two years ago, he also started the Diversity IT Network, a community that brings together information technology professionals of multicultural backgrounds and connects them to career development and personal growth opportunities.
As a company, Advoqt invests time and resources into initiatives like Latino STEM Alliance and Diversity IT Network. It acts as a liaison between multicultural technology professionals and job opportunities either internally, or as a way to fulfill their clients’ staffing needs.
According to statistics released by The U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index, in 2015 African-American and Latino workers represented 29 percent of the general workforce population, but just 16 percent of the advanced manufacturing workforce, 15 percent of the computing workforce and 12 percent of the engineering workforce — rates that have virtually remained flat since 2000. White and Asian individuals dominate 83 percent of the advanced manufacturing workforce, 84 percent of the computing workforce and 87 percent of the engineering workforce.
“As a business owner, I have the discretion to say, this is the kind of business that I’m building,” said Moquete. “It’s going to create opportunities for folks of all backgrounds. … It’s going to help us all generate personal wealth but do so in a way that is also contributing to the good of our community.”
Diversity is critical for Moquete and his company, not only on a social impact level, but also on a strategic level. “It gives us different perspectives and different points of view to solve a problem,” he said.
But more than anything, when hiring, Moquete looks for attitude and work ethic. “I love hiring people who are demonstrated hustlers,” said Moquete. “Somebody who, despite every obstacle, has found a way to be successful.”
Moquete did not have any capital when he started Advoqt but had already garnered active customers from his previous jobs that allowed the company to float for a couple of years.
“When I decided to go off on my own, there were a number of customers that supported me,” he said. “But then, being out there, hustling, beating the bush, we were able to secure major customers that have functioned as anchors and from which we scaled.”
Advoqt grew 300 percent last year and Moquete is hoping to continue with similar momentum through strategic partnerships with mid-sized business clients.
According to Moquete, the ever-increasing sophistication of hackers only makes the need for cybersecurity through cloud computing even more urgent.
“Hackers are far more advanced than your average business owner, which allows for a business like mine to prosper,” he said.