Jory Lamb started as an entrepreneur as a 23-year old in rural Canada. Read his 18-year journey.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Jory Lamb: I grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada. I was also born there. My dad was a schoolteacher and my mom ran local food stores called Red Roosters. We used to own three Red Roosters, which would be the equivalent of 7-11 stores in the late 70s to the mid 80s. I went on to the University of Saskatchewan and graduated with a business degree.
From there, I went to Calgary and worked the summer of my third term at Amoco Petroleum. I went on to work full-time for them as a business analyst for about two and a half years before I started, what is now, VistaVu Solutions. I was 23 years old at that time.
Sramana Mitra: What year was VistaVu founded?
Jory Lamb: 1996. I was 23 then.
Sramana Mitra: The Internet had just started to come into existence. What was your concept? What propelled you to start the company? What idea were you going after?
Jory Lamb: That’s a great question. I appreciate that. As a small business owner, I always knew that I wanted to do something on my own. When I was in College of Commerce, which was a very agriculture-based school, I did a business plan for the delivery of information out to rural Canada. We looked at creating a repository of information that farmers could go to for accessing information. What we discovered through the research was we could build this thing, but at that time, there was only an 11% adoption rate of computers inside of farms. If you’re in Alberto or Saskatchewan, there are two driving industries—oil & gas and agriculture.
I was impatient to start something. I was young. I had no mortgage, no family, and no risk. I thought, “Now’s a good time as any.” I started with a company called Canadian Rural Computer Services. It was the early days of the Internet—NetScape 2.0. The web was coming on to the scene. We began by doing training sessions and getting farmers to utilize the Internet as a service for information.
Fast forward three to four years post my business plan, the Internet was becoming more pervasive. We were teaching them how to use the Internet to access some of the information we thought would be useful. Then the second thing we were doing was teaching them general computer use. How to do accounting and some basic bookkeeping using computers.