In about 1999 or 2000, I met a neat Canadian guy, former Citibanker, who was starting a company during the dotcom boom. At the time, the company was called VR Solutions, a software solution in the model of the exchanges that were popular at the time (Anybody remember Verticalnet?) It was for truckers and shippers with loads to ship. He knew that these weren’t Internet savvy people, but he thought Dan could attract them with a cost-effective piece of technoogy.
He was in Arizona visiting his wife’s folks, and someone recommended him to Stealthmode, so we had a meeting.I liked the idea, and I liked the man. A while later, we moved the company to Phoenix and re-incorporated it as Loadbook.He thought he had a better chance of succeeding in the states, because we were flying high with Web 1.0. The press release is still on PR web here.
Time passed. Dan (the founder) tried to grow the company.He acquired a small contract from a large client. He worked with several “sales” experts and “consultants.”The bottom fell out of the Internet. 9.11 disrupted the entire American economy. Dan’s wife, perhaps tired of struggling, divorced him. He still had the single client. Not enough to live on. No money to hire sales people.
Struggling on alone, Dan was approached in 2003 by one of the small public companies that are constantly trying to roll up other companies so they can get some momentum and make their stock truly liquid. It was called OrderPro Logistics, and you can find it on the Internet WayBack Machine’s archives here. Demoralized and tired, Dan decided to sell. OrderPro would get the technology, Dan would get a CTO job, and Dan and his new wife would move to Tucson.
I was very happy for him. I went with him to Tucson to celebrate the closing of the deal. I received a small fee for participating.
My check bounced. Dan’s check bounced. And within weeks, OrderPro’s payroll checks started bouncing.
On the advice of an attorney, Dan began again. He took the technology and re-incorporated as 38 Minutes.
That’s the target time for matching a truck to a shipment.
Disgusted, Dan bought 40 acres of cheap farmland in Missouri and he and his wife moved there to run the virtual business and raise animals.
Five years of broken promises from would-be helpers and investors later, the site has finally caught on. Even truckers are on the Internet now. One of the consultants actually sold a deal, and now Dan’s off and running. If he plays it right, 38Minutes will be viral.
The servers are still up, his wife is still with him, he’s got enough money to take his kids to a NASCAR race this year, and things are looking good. Dan has literally done all this himself, with the help of a single loyal developer, who by now is his partner in the company.
Another overnight success.