He gave a tour of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, rattling off facts about Saturn 5 engines to Microsoft representatives.
As years go, they don’t get much better than last year for 40-year-old Irfan Khan. Agosto, the company he co-founded and leads as CEO, was recognized by Google as one of its best partners for selling Google Apps for Work. And this news came on top of a four-year run in which Agosto’s annual sales increased 400 percent, to $9 million.
Agosto delivers new technologies that help increase its clients’ operational efficiencies through Google Apps for Work, including Hangouts for video conferencing, Drive for easily accessible storage and Maps for pinpointing locations and navigation.
During the past 13 years, Khan has personally helped migrate tens of thousands of users onto Google Apps. Recently, for example, he worked with St. Paul-based Image Sensing Systems on its development of CitySync Safety, a system that teams above-ground detection technology with big-data collection to alert police investigators about criminal activity. The project runs completely off of Google’s cloud platform, and ultimately—among Agosto’s other successes—resulted in the company being named Google’s Global Enterprise Partner of the Year.
Khan earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Oregon University in 1996, and took classes in programming languages C++ and Unix at the University of Minnesota, then found his first job working for Webhelp, a dot-com designed to improve business performance. While there, he collaborated with many bright-minded individuals, including Rick Erickson.
While working at Webhelp, Khan and Erickson spent their weekends taking on freelance projects for other individuals, ranging from implementing wireless networks to helping fix server errors. The operation began out of Khan’s basement, and grew soon after the dot-com bubble burst.
“We were consultants back then,” Khan says. “We were always trying to get the next consulting gig and keep busy. It was kind of feast or famine. You’d be really busy with some projects and then you’d get them done and you’d be looking for the next thing.”
This incremental growth of new clients eventually reached a critical mass, however. And in more recent years, growth accelerated to the point where Agosto needed to move to larger office space in the historic Ford Center in Minneapolis two years ago.
The growth also provides Khan the means to indulge here and there, if he so chooses. “I’m not going to take my money to my grave,” he says with a chuckle.
Outside of the office, Khan looks for any excuse to escape on two wheels. In total, he owns eight high-end bikes—a mixture of road, triathlon and mountain bikes—and that’s not counting what his wife and children ride. The crowd of bikes in the family garage sometimes forces him to park in the driveway, but Khan would rather make that small sacrifice than consider selling any of his prized collection.
He especially likes long-distance bicycle races of 10 to 12 hours, though he doesn’t hesitate to enter even tougher races. He has tackled Colorado’s Leadville 100 on four occasions; the last time he completed the Rocky Mountain climb, he started at 10,152 feet, with his CTO Paul Lundberg riding at his side.
With the means to take on more extravagant racing adventures, he is even eyeing La Ruta de los Conquistadores, a multi-stage event touted as the first mountain bike race of its kind. Competitors take on the Costa Rican terrain from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean—approximately 250 miles—in a mere three days.
Among his other interests are four-wheeled vehicles, and Khan recently rebuilt his Subaru’s blown engine. “I took the opportunity to rekindle my car interest and ordered an enormous amount of parts,” he says. “Now that car is extremely fast—probably as fast as a Lamborghini.”
Projects like these continue to consume his free time, all in conjunction with his growing wealth and fascination for how things work. All things considered, is there any frontier Khan won’t take a crack at?
“I find myself reading quite a bit about rockets and space,” he says with unbridled enthusiasm. “If I can spend my money on space travel, I’m going to do that.”