Over the years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working in small technology companies. Some were contracts that I sold at a very young age. Others were great opportunities that I got involved with the founders – to learn and try new things.
SingleOps took some operations experience (and eye opening profit extractions from operations management) from BlueFletch to create an application that would help medium sized landscapers manage and control their profit margins.
Customers also liked the idea of communicated as well with their customers as we did with them – which fit in nicely with our capabilities to enhance scheduling (best routing, email reminders, post scheduling report)
Unfortunately, we didn’t hit the customer growth curve that would allow this to become a truly sustainable business. One of the learnings in this involve being able to discern between medicine (can’t live without) and candy (this would be great to have) features – and what the customer asks for and what the customer will eventually pay for and tell others to check out. Another learning was that change can be hard to manage – training technology and creating a sense of loyalty. The last learning is that it’s difficult to do everything the competition is doing, but making it easier – few companies try to sell customers on fewer features (attach this to the learnings above) that are more difficult to use.
Pardot is an Atlanta local success story of a marketing automation platform. I started as employee 20 and we rolled software fast on our quick and agile team. Amazingly, over my years there, we went from a few dozen customers to being acquired by Exact Target.
The best part was how even as we approached 1000 customers the support, development, and sales teams could interact really well together. These relationships helped solve issues and keep you connected to the need really well.
In 2001, my good friend, Brian Fagan and I learned how to program, both at work and with our school’s talented and gifted departments. Directed studies allowed us to learn how to produce an application that actively saved teachers hundreds of hours each semester and made a complex process both simple and engaging for students and teachers.
In college, I continued to support my Alma mater (Roswell High School) by continuing volunteering and consulting for them. Most departments that I talked to saw the value proposition and some purchased the software and support. Ultimately, I was selling a product.
As 2010 approached though, the Georgia Legislature slashed education budgests, including those to gifted departments. These cuts lead departments to reorganize their departments, often in ways that reduced Gifted Program opportunities and lessoned the reporting burden and student independence of being flexible with their core class schedules.
It’sMEdia was another project by Ms. Scott that was based on capturing the burgeoning HD Video on the internet craze. (Which in the perspective of youtube not going HD until late 2009 makes it really high tech) It started with Tennis and Gymnastics with local teams and crews exploring different ideas from motion capture (stroMotion.)
It was a ground up system involving some great new technologies. We used clustering, our own version of cloud computing (unmetered bandwidth vs. metered dedicated box) and worked with the newly released and just becoming popular h264 and mpeg4 video technologies.
Something else that few people have gotten to do is work abroad with their business. In 2006 our big make or break moment was when we went to the People to People Youth Sports events in Vienna Austria and Amsterdam, Netherlands. Sure they were 100+ hour weeks, but definitely experiences.
Elgia Inc. (2001-2007)
Working for Wexford gave me a great story as I started high school, especially when I met Stacey Scott (a neighbor) by doing yard work for her and she heard that I worked on the neighborhood website and was interested in computers. I was the 4th employee at Elgia Inc. a provider of technical support for AT&T’s Webmeeting (based on Webex) This was empowering, as I got to learn to actually program in PHP and work with databases while supporting C level executives at a young age of 16 – But also because I was able to get my friends working with me as well – at one point 4 other people from middle / high school were hired almost directly because of my success. If you used AT&T’s Executive Web Conference software, that was programmed by high schoolers (and done very professionally at that)
At the age of 12, the subdivision that my parents live in started deciding to cut back on its newsletter from monthly to bimonthly – as it faced the dot com advertising bubble and was potentially losing advertisers. I saw this as a huge market and so pitched the board of directors and wrote up a contract that had me managing, hosting, and producing our neighborhood’s website. I was a market maker for new ideas. It also gave me the pride and ability to provide high speed internet at my house (before cheap hosting was really quick available) and work with businesses to provide some advertising.
I originally worked on the business model and technology behind StarvingFreelancers.com – an artistic freelancing web site in a similar sphere as CarbonMade. My own issues with the job market at the time (2009) had me doubting its incredible success.
TodaysBracket.com was a Startup Weekend Atlanta idea of a web entertainment game of bracketology – a bracket system for your favorite Simpsons character or favorite Startup Weekend company. I’m extremely proud of our progress in one weekend as our business development team went and sold advertising and received a letter of intent. Our alpha product was a success as StartupWeekend was successfully bracketed [though I massaged the database some]
FandomU is a company by Chris Stuckey that got accepted into the Microsoft Azure Incubation Program in 2010 and needed more developers, so I jumped right in.
Troopl is a Startup Camp project that took some seed funding (after a weekend) to help real estate owners and developers find out what stores customers would want at a given location.