A Convo with MetroStar Tech Founders: How People Drive Growth


Space background with a white rocket ship. Green text reads: MetroStar turns 24!

24 Years of Learning, Adapting, and Working Through Growth 

MetroStar is a leading digital services and solutions company based in Northern Virginia, specializing in supporting dozens of federal agencies across the Capital Beltway.

As we celebrate 24 years this May, MetroStar has much to commemorate and to reflect on. To recognize the milestone, co-founders, Chief Executive Officer, Ali Reza Manouchehri and President, Robert J. Santos, share how MetroStar has grown, changed, and prepared for the future. 

Where We Have Been 

The co-founders agree that building MetroStar from the ground up took courage, risk, and most importantly, trust in one another. From putting ideas together in a dorm room at George Mason University to pivoting to the services industry. MetroStar has stayed true to its mission from the beginning: A passion for our people. Value for our customers. 

When Rob and Ali met in college and became friends, they didn't know that their friendship would soon reinforce their future company's people-focused culture. Their friendship led to a foundation that has allowed us to grow into a company with over 450 employees, across more than a 30 states, while we support over 30 customers. 

“[Creating the business] wasn’t a perfect plan. But the plan was us, all together. Stick together, keep iterating, and keep building,” said Manouchehri. 

Although our growth can be attributed to MetroStar's unique culture and values, what the team has learned in the past 24 years has also helped shape MetroStar. The co-founders like to think of themselves as lifelong learners. As their people learn, change, and grow, MetroStar grows with them. Being in the tech business for over two decades, Manouchehri and Santos have learned that growing and winning is about how fast you can change and adapt to new environments. 

“You have to redefine yourself every year to think differently and act differently depending on what the company needs. If you want to be a good leader every year, you’re going to be a different leader every year,” said Manouchehri. 

Where We Are 

Black image with many boxes on it showcasing MetroStar's milestones

Pictured: Milestones from the last year. 

As we navigate changing technology, MetroStar wants to serve and transform how people, bureaucracies, and tech enthusiasts connect in the digital age. We can only follow this mindset by winning new business and properly investing in our future.  Currently, our focus lies in our Big Harry Audacious Goal (BHAG): all roads leading to artificial intelligence (AI) (but, of course, not all our wins are AI related!).  

“When you look at certain recent wins, like with the Air Force, that is AI-based. There is no confusion,” said Manouchehri. “Other contracts, like with DIA and a few others, provide vehicles for us to chase new, exciting business beyond AI.” 

As MetroStar continues to win, the leaders know that they have to be thoughtful about where to invest, and the co-founders agree that people are at the top of their list for deciding where to focus future investments. 

“You have to take care of your people because if you take care of the people, the people will take care of the customer. If the customer is happy, then MetroStar grows,” said Santos. 

To ensure investments are leading MetroStar in the right direction, leaders have to constantly measure how investments are doing and reassess them for the next year. Santos and Manouchehri want to know where MetroStar is going six months before and prepare themselves for change. 

Where We Are Going 

MetroStar continues to grow rapidly (including through our Midwest Expansion). As the company looks to the future, our success is dependent on our ability to adapt to change and the challenges that come with discovering new territory. 

“Where we are heading is an exciting area,” said Manouchehri. “Statistically, companies like MetroStar don’t exist. We are special because we are a pure organic play - meaning we've grown on our own without any acquisitions.” 

As MetroStar develops, technology advances, and AI shapes the world, our biggest strength will continue to be the people and the level of talent we are able to maintain. 

“People should come to MetroStar because their voices will be heard,” said Manouchehri. “MetroStar is exciting from the outside. But that [excitement] is challenging—change is challenging. At MetroStar you have the opportunity to be heard and to be empowered but you also have to be adaptable. You can do incredible things here, and we will champion that.” 

When it comes to MetroStar's BHAG and the future, the company knows how to be patient but predictive. Meeting our BHAG is not something that can be done in six months. We have to constantly make sure we can adapt and innovate to serve our customers. We also must think about what the world will look like in five years, prepare to co-exist with developing technology, and find ways to use new technology to our advantage.  

“The difference between a good and a great player [is that] one can know the playbook on the field but if something doesn’t go the way they were thinking, it is the capacity of the knowledge of that individual or that team to make an adjustment to get the team to score,” said Manouchehri. 

We are great players, not good ones. After 24 years, we have had to learn, grow, and change, but we’re not done. To continue being great players in this industry, we have to make sure we adjust and work through the growing pains. The more we practice the better prepared MetroStar will be for what is to come.  

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