We cover Big Data at length, both on Thought Leaders in Big Data and Entrepreneur Journeys. This story relates the tale of robust execution on a very insightful concept, delivering a real-time Big Data solution to merchants transacting on marketplaces like eBay.
Sramana: Kevin, let’s start at the beginning of your story. Where are you from and what kind of backstory leads up to Terapeak?
Kevin North: I was born and raised in Toronto and had a typical middle class upbringing. My father worked for the railroad. In high school, I became interested in computers. I was 14 and 15 years old when I started taking apart computers and rebuilding them. I learned how to program.
The friends who I socialized with were also involved in computers and a lot of them were programmers. After high school I took a couple of years off and did a variety of jobs for two years. I then went and earned a bachelor’s of arts in Psychology and French.
When I was in my third year of college, a couple of my high school friends did a startup in Toronto. They wanted me to quit college and help them get the business started. I did not do that because I really wanted to finish college. I graduated and then I joined them in their startup. I graduated on a Friday and showed up to work with them on a Monday.
The company was Dyadem which was a risk management software company. It provided software primarily to oil and gas companies at that time. It was a true bootstrapped environment.
Sramana: What year was this?
Kevin North: I joined that company in 1998. My first job there was in sales. We were selling desktop software to Oil and Gas companies to help them with risk assessment. Our mandate there was to get as many packages into the hands of engineers as we could. We had a rudimentary website but we did not get any leads through it. We got our leads by calling up companies and making them aware of what we were doing. We relied on the telesales model initially. When you are with a company that young, you really have to be creative and keep costs as low as possible.