How an East Cobb man prevailed in business on his third try

Secrets of Success

Once struggling, entrepreneur prevails on 3rd try

Will Hakes was adrift after graduating high school: jobless, no drive for college, living in the closet of a friend's apartment. Now he leads a business that crunches billions of records a day for some of the nation's biggest companies, including Intel and T-Mobile.

Link Analytics uses sophisticated math to produce insights that help clients understand customers, competitors and equipment needs. The venture Hakes and colleague Sean Groer started three and a half years ago --- his third attempt at starting a company --- now has 45 employees and pulled in more than $6 million in revenue last year, Hakes said. He predicts the business, based near Perimeter Mall, will hit $14 million to $18 million in sales next year.

Read how Hakes, 42, said he got where he is on our premium website:

Hakes' tips

1 Have enough financial flexibility to keep the business going if money doesn't come in for a year.

2 There's always a good excuse not to start a business now. A decent idea never really comes at the perfect time, but is it the right time for you and is it the right time for the idea?

3 You need support from someone close to you: your spouse, parents, a professor.


Each Sunday, the AJC brings subscribers insights from metro Atlanta’s leaders and entrepreneurs. Business editor Matt Kempner’s “Secrets of Success” shares the vision and realities of entrepreneurs who started their dreams from scratch. The column alternates with business editor Henry Unger’s “5 Questions for the Boss,” which reveals the lessons learned by CEOs of the area’s major companies and organizations.