(our original logo)
On September 12, 2013, Terraine officially turned 22 years old. It seems just like yesterday that Paul and I started Terraine. I bought a book titled ?How to Incorporate in North Carolina?, and we thought that that?s all we needed to know to get started. We didn?t know what we didn?t know, and that was a good thing. Because we got started.
Getting Started, Pre-Internet Days
When we started Terraine in September of 1991, there was no world wide web, only a few proprietary networks like GEnie, CompuServe, and AOL. Fax machines were all the rage and expensive, and cell phones were large and bulky and had something called ?follow-me-roaming? that you had to activate whenever you drove beyond your designated cell tower coverage. Believe it or not, cell phone companies back then had sales guys that would come visit your office and tout the benefits of cell phones. People actually had to be convinced of this back then.
Macintosh computers were regarded as toys…most people thought that you could not do ?real work? with a Mac back then. It wasn?t until 2006 or later that Apple was synonymous with great technology in the workplace. And people communicated with each other via large analog desktop phones which were connected to a wall.
More Complicated Back Then
Getting a company going was more complicated and expensive back then. Reserving a company name entailed calling a phone number at the office of the Secretary of State and asking a human being if a particular name was available. In our case, I called the number, asked if ?Terraine Inc.? was available, and the lady on the line said ?it?s available?. So I then reserved the name, filled out some forms, paid the incorporation fee, and presto! Terraine was born.
Angel investors and venture capital? Don?t make me laugh…that stuff barely existed, especially for a services company. Loans from banks? Sure, they?d loan you back the money you put into their bank, dollar for dollar. But somehow we managed to sucker my dad and Paul?s father-in-law to loan us $10K, which got us started on this experiment called Terraine.
We both brought our own Macintosh SE computers and an Imagewriter inkjet printer to a spare bedroom in his rental house on Ball Camp Road in Knoxville, and we bought a fax machine for around $1,300. We were on our way!
Ups and Downs Are Par for the Course
Flash forward to 1997…2 offices, 25 full-time employees, annual revenues of around $6M…and mounting losses due to a few mistakes and over-expansion into capital-intensive lines of business like garbage collection at the Smoky Mountain National Park and the Dahlgren Naval Surface Warfare Facility in Virgina.
After cutting back and streamlining some things, we got back to decent financial shape in the early 2000s, especially when we joint ventured with Ensafe Inc. (a much larger entity) and started working on large environmental projects for the US Navy and US Army Corps of Engineers. This work eventually led to the Adesso Systems software that I found that I really liked and became good at using to build paperless data collection systems.
Eventually, we had plenty of capital and ended up acquiring the intellectual property of Adesso Systems for a huge sum of money. ?Thus began our move and migration from traditional environmental consulting to technology consulting, which is where we are at nowadays.
It?s a Journey
The point of all of this is that we are still here…different, but here, and my journey as an entrepreneur over the last 22 years has been filled with a lot of mistakes, some successes, a ton of learning, huge marketplace swings, a move into the tech sector, and always a positive outlook toward what the future will bring. Of what might be just around the corner for us. And what new and cool things I will learn on the way there.