We don’t hear a lot of entrepreneurial stories from Kentucky. Here’s one that is scaling nicely!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Steve Huey: I grew up just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. My father was an entrepreneur. He built a nice real estate business back in the early 70s, experienced the incredible credit crunch of the mid-70s, and lost his business. That had a big impact on me because I saw the success on one side and the problems on the other. From the time I was six or seven, I’ve always loved the entrepreneurial spirit. I went to Miami University and was an Accounting and Finance major. After my undergraduate studies, I became an auditor with Chiquita Brands International. I was an international auditor.
Sramana Mitra: Can you frame this a little bit chronologically? What time frame are we talking?
Steve Huey: I graduated high school early. I did high school in about three years. This was 1983. The only way I was going to get to go to college is if I could graduate early and earn money, so I could pay my way through college. I became the youngest manager that Wendy’s had in its history. I was given my first store at 19. I did that for two years and then went to Miami University. I ended up doing Miami University in about three to three and a half years. I graduated in 1990.
From 1990 to 1995, I worked for Chiquita in Cincinnati. From 1995 to about midway through 1996, I worked for Fifth Third Bank as an asset-based lending auditor. Then, my father became ill. I went back and helped with the family business. I’m probably one of the only technology people that you’ll meet that was also ranked as one of the top 200 craftsman in the United States. My family business was antique reproduction furniture.
Sramana Mitra: Wonderful.
Steve Huey: It’s a little bit crazy. I helped run the family business for two years. Then my older brother came back and took over the business. I went out and started a web design and network consulting firm with my high school friends. That was 1996 to 1997. My wife was accepted to Harvard Business School and in 1998, we moved to Boston. I worked with Deloitte Consulting to help them start their e-commerce practice in Boston right around 1998.
Within a few months, I was recruited to a company called CMGI, which was, at that time, one of the bigger Internet incubators. We owned Lycos. We owned major pieces of Lycos and Geocities. We bought AltaVista. I was one of four people in their M&A group during that time. The two years before the crash and the year or so after, I worked with CMGI. I helped them buy companies and later sell them or restructure them. Then, we moved to Atlanta where I did much of the same thing for EarthLink. I worked with EarthLink for three years. I helped them start their software division, which we did pretty well. Then they let me take over managing their cable business. At that time, their cable business was doing about $200 million a year in revenue.