Darius Joseph ’89 took a big leap with Central College; he enrolled as a freshman without ever having seen the campus. Born in St. Lucia and having grown up in St. Croix—both Caribbean islands—Joseph looked over a Central catalog, spoke with a few admission representatives and hopped on a plane to start classes.
Several years later, Joseph mirrored that same heart-in-the mouth plunge. He decided to leave his stable job with the Florida state government to start his own business. It paid off the same way his first leap did. Joseph is now owner and president of an IT consulting business.
Joseph began his first company in the early 1990s, just as the Internet was being born. The pull of the new technology was too much for him to resist, and his “brain child,” MicroWare, took shape. In 2011, the company rebranded as Simplified Technologies and moved away from retail toward corporate support and consulting.
The re-launch of the company reminded Joseph that technology is always evolving, something he finds exhilarating about the industry. “From the business standpoint, I like coming up with an idea, developing and implementing a plan and seeing it progress,” he says of his role as president of a tech firm. “I like to see things happen from beginning to end. I get a lot of satisfaction out of that.”
Still, being an entrepreneur is a challenge, especially in a state with hurricanes. Joseph runs Simplified Technologies out of Fort Myers, Fla., and he ships many of his products overseas. More than once, he’s been derailed by hurricanes or other catastrophes, including the poor economy, which has hit Florida especially hard.
“We have to come up with solutions and keep the business going,” says Joseph. “I’m responsible for my employees and their families. People depend on me to keep things going. But I do get the pleasure of keeping the ship afloat.”
Joseph credits the problem-solving skills and confidence that help him as president to his Central College education. As a physics and math major with a French minor, Joseph took a broad range of classes. But he is glad that Central’s liberal arts curriculum forced him to take even more. “That really opened up my eyes to a lot of other things that affected me personally and professionally,” he says.
While at Central, Joseph was extremely active on campus—a member of French club, the multicultural group, Phi Delta Tau and soccer and rugby intramurals. His favorite memories come from his role as the campus DJ at dances in Graham Hall. He’d transport all the lights and equipment over to the cafeteria to give his fellow students something fun to do on weekends.
Joseph’s penchant for community involvement has not slowed since graduating from Central. He is on the board of directors for the American Lung Association, a prominent and time-consuming position, and is also involved with juvenile diabetes charities. He has two young children who he takes on mini-vacations around Florida. Recently, he has even taken on his old hobby as a DJ again.
Although that’s unlikely to turn into another business, Joseph is more than satisfied with the one he has. And he’s certainly pleased to have picked Central College out of a catalog all those years ago and moved from the sunny Caribbean to snowy Iowa.
Now, he hopes Central students will continue starting their own businesses, just as he did—and he knows they have the work ethic for it. “You better have a vision,” he advises potential entrepreneurs. “You have to sit down and believe in it. Never go into business thinking that you are going to work less.”