Sramana Mitra: Let’s anchor this on some dates. What year were you noodling with this idea?
Mike Carter: I graduated from college in 1992. I immediately went to work for this tech startup called The Computer Group. That company was acquired in 1996 by IKON Office Solutions. It’s part of the overall document workflow type of technology and automation offering. In 1999, I departed what was then IKON and started eGroup. I’ve been with eGroup since 1999. We’re on our 15th year of bootstrapped company using credit cards and youthful ambition.
Sramana Mitra: Give me more of the genesis of eGroup. What was it that you were trying to do with eGroup and what were the circumstances of the founding? You were one of the founders, yes?
Mike Carter: I am the founder, yes. In 1999, I was at an inflection point with my career. I had an opportunity to take on a larger national role with the organization that I was with that didn’t necessarily lend itself to the direction that I wanted to be in. I come from a highly technical background in terms of doing service delivery and architecting solutions.
At that time, this really cool tech was being seen as fringe. Nobody really put that at the center of the table as a business-enabling type of technology. You take the right technology at the right time with an idea and a need that businesses have. You fuse the two together and you do that not just from a solutions orientation, but to deliver an experience for those organizations. I had to take the use of the word transformational in a sense of shifting mindsets about how they interact with technology and how they use it outside the wall of their data center. No one was bringing that to market. There was just rampant need as things were becoming increasingly more interconnected. I had the distinct opportunity based on relationships I had made over time to bring those solutions to market for our clients.
Honestly, our mission has never changed. We believe that no matter who you are within IT, the goal and the mission is always the same – to deliver applications and information to the end users who need them. What we’ve been able to do over 15 years is to increasingly deliver a better experience that continues to deliver more profound results and impact for our clients as a result of the tools and techniques that we’ve developed.
Sramana Mitra: Can you walk us through a customer use case?
Mike Carter: We have clients that use all types of applications. Those applications need to be secured. They need to be confined and well-supported in a high performance format, but they need to be extended to people who exist on the edge. When you do that, there’re a number of efficiencies that can be gained from using different tools and techniques.
For example, being able to take Tier 1 application workloads – email, line of business systems, patient care systems – and being able to bring those into a secure, automated, virtual data center and be able to extend those applications outside the walls of that data center using all kinds of transport technologies. It’s a very complicated thing to do. I’m sure you know that making something look effortless takes an exceptional amount of work.
The ones that we engaged with see this as a competitive advantage and understand that working with a service provider like ours – their cloud, our cloud, or the industry’s cloud – is a distinct advantage in terms of being able to get to the market faster with the applications and the information that they’re delivering to their end user.
Often, our clients are healthcare providers, financial services companies, legal entities, and transportation firms. All of these companies have very horizontal needs in terms of getting applications and information out to their end user. When we can’t take those applications and extend those, we modernize the applications, automate workflows, and deliver that information and those workflows in a different format so that they can take that with them or use them wherever they are.