The summer after his junior year of high school, Jonathan Fitch was looking for something to do. By the suggestion of his mom, he decided to start a side hustle helping people with their tech devices in their homes and businesses. Now, as a third-year in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), Fitch’s side hustle has transformed into a growing and successful business called Next Gen Integration, LLC.
Next Gen Integration uses custom software to integrate and automate the security, lighting, and audio systems in large homes and businesses. The software and language is an open system that requires certification to work with and install, and Fitch designs and tailors the software to each client. Because the business stems around efficiency, Fitch has incorporated many of his ISyE skills into it.
“The goal in what I do is to optimize and make these systems as integrated as possible so there are no bugs and glitches within the program files, and the client is able to easily operate their system,” he explained. “I found ISyE to be the right major for me as it is all about streamlining and optimization. With my business the entire premise is integrating buildings and streamlining the systems within them.”
By word of mouth, Fitch’s business has expanded. He’s been able to hire five part-time employees and manages over 50 client and business accounts in the Atlanta area. Because of this, balancing both school and work can be challenging.
Fitch frequently works odd hours, including weekends, early mornings, and late nights throughout the week. He also tries not to accept new jobs outside of a certain radius to minimize time spent in travel and plans his academic schedule to be as tight as possible to create a more efficient day, with less downtime between his studies and work.
Though he has not yet decided if he will make Next Gen Integration his full-time job after graduation, Fitch is keeping the option in mind. He has considered taking the company to the next level by doing more with general contracting, designing, and building integrated homes and buildings from the ground-up.
“In the beginning, there were times where I would go weeks without a job, and it was a bit demotivating, however, sticking through it and being persistent got me to where I am now,” he said. “If you want a lifestyle -- albeit one that can be hectic and ever-changing -- that you get to dictate and have control of, there is nothing better than having your own business.”
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering