How Everett Harper Puts People at the Center of Tech

Human-centered software development for the public and private sector

Everett Harper thinks human-centric design is the key to better software development, so he built a company based on that belief. 

Harper is the co-founder and CEO of Truss, a tech consulting firm that helps product, design, and engineering teams produce high-quality and human-centric software and processes.

A portrait of Everett Harper.


Harper launched Truss in 2011 with a mission of helping companies figure out their technical needs and improving their tech processes. The company develops software and trains tech teams to continue the work themselves. Truss has helped companies rebuild their digital documentation systems, revamp online product suites, and more. 

"Everyone has ideas, but learning how to turn them into something bigger, better, and substantial is the trick," Harper told Lifewire in a phone interview. "We do human-centered software development to help companies and organizations look at complex problems and transform their systems into something that has better social outcomes."

Quick Facts

  • Name: Everett Harper
  • Age: 55
  • From: The Hudson Valley of New York
  • Random delight: He was previously part of the soccer team that won the first national championship in Duke University's history for any sport. 
  • Key quote or motto: "Wash the dishes to wash the dishes."

Pivotal Business Decisions

Harper has launched various types of initiatives, he said. He started a diversity and inclusion company back in the mid-'90s, and he worked on a wine app in the late 2000s. Harper failed a couple of times before launching Truss, which he said is the first substantial company he has started since venturing into entrepreneurship decades ago. 

In 2010, Harper joined Women 2.0's startup accelerator, Founder Labs. Harper said he learned everything he needed to know about business development during the program, and he even met his technical co-founders, Mark Ferlatte and Jen Leech. Within a year of participating in Founder Labs, Harper launched Truss and started building the company's team of 120 employees. 

"The incubator was an incredible experience because I realized that the thing I instinctively knew how to do was something called customer development," Harper said.

Since its inception, Truss has worked with various public and private sector clients, including the Center for Medicaid Services, the United States Transportation Command, and a couple of Fortune 50 companies. In 2013, leaders called on Truss to fix its site because the Affordable Care Act was in danger of being revoked.

Harper said his team was successful and again built the site's upgrade a year later. This business decision was pivotal, as it showed Harper Truss' true focus of becoming a human-centered software development company.  

A closeup portrait of Everett Harper.


Strength in Diversity

Truss is self-funded and growing rapidly, according to Harper. The company's CEO said he plans to expand Truss' team to 140 employees by year's end. Harper said 55% of Truss' team identify as women, 35% are minorities, and 25% identify as nonbinary. Having a diverse team gives Truss "incredible strength," Harper said. The company's team spans 20 states and has continuously operated remotely.  

As a Black founder, Harper said funding and recognition were the main challenges when he started Truss more than a decade ago. His biggest challenge now is reassuring the industry that Truss's diverse team does great work, regardless of their looks. 

"We do excellent technology work, period. End of story," Harper said. "I want my team to be able to step into their abilities first, rather than that they are representing a minority founder or group."

To get past financial struggles, Harper said Truss created a very explicit strategy. He shared that staying self-funded and revenue-driven has always been a part of the plan, so the company's leaders can maintain as much autonomy as possible. 

Harper plans on spending the next six to nine months improving Truss' internal operations and systems to support the company's growing team.  

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