For over 40 years, since 1977, I have been building companies. Out of college, I joined a family commercial printing business and left to become an independent computer consultant one year later.
During the 1970s, mainframe computers were as large as refrigerators, while mini-computers resembled multiple-drawer filing cabinets in size. Instead of using USB sticks, I stored data on large disks that were similar in size to LP records. At the time, individuals typically worked on monochrome terminals that displayed 80 characters per line and had 20-24 lines in total.
After gaining experience as an independent consultant with one employee, I embarked on a new venture alongside my brother-in-law, selling small business computers under the company name "Micobus". Having worked at Micobus, focusing primarily on the technical aspects of the business, I quickly realized the significance of actively taking part in the entrepreneurial side of any venture I engage in. This valuable experience underscored the importance of understanding and being involved in the business operations of an enterprise.
After leaving Micobus, I wanted to gain experience in a larger corporate environment. So, I joined Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), which was the second largest computer company in the world. During my time at DEC, I developed strong technical skills and gained valuable management experience.
After spending five years at DEC, I started my own consulting firm called "Irv Shapiro and Associates." Our focus was providing consulting services specifically for DEC customers. This allowed me to apply the expertise and experience I gained at DEC to help and support our clients in a more personalized way.
ISA (Irv Shapiro and Associates) evolved into Metamor, "The Technology Transition Company" helping enterprise migrate from obsolete to new technologies. Back in the 80s, that meant migrating from MainFrames to Mini-Computers and then servers. Metamor grew to over 500 employees and tens of millions of dollars of revenue and was sold twelve years later to Corestaff, a publication traded company.
Next, a founded Edventions a company helping elementary schools embrace the internet safely. Edventions placed Unix based services into schools providing safe filtered access to the Internet, how school connections and in classroom teaching and testing modules. Edventions, while not financially successful, sold to a publicly traded charter school company when the tech startup world crashed in the dot-com bubble. HP was provided Edventions leases for the servers placed into schools and when the markets crashed, HP pulled the leases. Edventions had a combination of private and venture funding.
After a couple of years of consulting in the hedge fund industry and evaluating a range of business ideas, I founded IfByPhone, which became DialogTech. I raised $60 million for DT and scaled the business to $40M in revenue with a positive cash flow positive. After my tenure at DialogTech, it was led by a CEO put in place by the board of directors with a goal of accelerated growth. Growth of 10% to 15% a year was viewed as unacceptable by my board. Unfortunately, the growth turned negative, and the company burned cash.
DialogTech was acquired by Invoca for $100M in May 2021.
At each of these businesses, I expanded my skills and experience. I look forward to sharing these experiences and helping other entrepreneurs learn from my successes and mistakes.