Posted on Tuesday, Sep 28th 2021
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Ateb CEO Frank Sheppard and his co-founders had built a sizeable bootstrapped business in North Carolina when we spoke in 2015. Read on to learn what worked for Ateb and what you can learn from them. Ateb was acquired by Omnicell in 2017.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go to the very beginning of your story. Where do you come from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of circumstances? Frank Sheppard: I was born in Florida but I was raised in Atlanta in a typical middle-class suburban environment. Sramana Mitra: Where did you do your schooling? Frank Sheppard: I went to Georgia Tech for college. I just went through the public school system in all of my education prior to Georgia Tech. Sramana Mitra: What year did you finish college? Frank Sheppard: 1982. It’s a long time since I answered that question. Sramana Mitra: The reason I asked is I’m trying to understand what was happening in the industry when you were coming out of college. It gives me the context. What happens after coming out of college? Frank Sheppard: During college, I worked extensively at Georgia Tech. They have a research facility there. After I left Georgia Tech, I was hired by IBM and worked at many locations for them. I started in Austin, Texas working with, what was at that time, one of the first word processing solutions. Then, I moved up to Rochester, Minnesota where I worked on some of their entry-level business systems. Then, I moved to Maryland where I worked in, what was called, integration of complex systems. It was really taking on projects on behalf of IBM and working for customers – usually Fortune 500 customers.
Then I moved down to Florida to work on the network design – IBM’s contribution to what is today the mobile network and the infrastructure for supporting mobile phones. Then I went to work for their Global Services division.
Sramana Mitra: So what year does this bring us up to? Frank Sheppard: That brings us up to 1989. I had a 10-year career with IBM. Starting in 1989, I would literally go around the country helping IBM take on projects where they were meeting challenges. My job was to try and sort them out. Sramana Mitra: At what point does the IBM career finish and what’s the next move? Frank Sheppard: In 1992, I had an opportunity with one of the projects I was working on. As it turned out, the project wasn’t going to be successful for IBM but in the course of that, I built a relationship with the company that IBM and I were working with. IBM discontinued the project, but they were willing to let me take on the project outside of IBM. We negotiated an agreement on that.
I started with four other gentlemen that I had worked with in my IBM career. We founded the roots of Ateb to work with a company out of North Carolina to help them develop the software infrastructure to support their telephone network testing equipment.
Our conversation continues
here. This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to an Exit . Why is Bootstrapping Important? . How Can You Play this Low-Probability Game Intelligently? . Do NOT Go to VCs as Beggars - Go as Kings . Excess is NOT Required for Success . Bootstrap First and Raise Money Later . Some Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies . The Buy Side of Bootstrapping to an Exit . Blitzscaling vs. Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to Unicorns More »» . Cinedigm Acquires Bootstrapped 1Mby1M Company Future Today for $60 Million . Mailchimp Bootstraps to $600M Revenue . Bootstrapping from Arizona to $10 Million . Bootstrapped Basecamp Executes a No Nonsense Strategy . How Under30Experiences Bootstrapped to $5 Million . Bootstrapping with a Paycheck . How Algo.ai CEO Amjad Hussain Bootstrapped using Services from Michigan . Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Businesses . How iHeartRaves CEO Bootstrapped a Niche e-Commerce Company to $20 Million . Bootstrapping with Services . How The Intern Group CEO David Lloyd Bootstrapped to $13 Million . How Passageways CEO Paroon Chadha Bootstrapped from Indiana . How SmartBuyGlasses CEO David Menning Bootstrapped to $50 Million . Death by Overfunding . How RainmakerForce CEO Mack Sundaram Bootstrapped Decisively to $5 Million+ . How FormAssembly CEO Bootstrapped a Virtual Company with a Paycheck . TimeSlips CEO Mitch Russo Bootstrapped to Exit with Sage . The VC-Entrepreneur Compensation Disbalance . BioConnect CEO Bootstraps with Sophisticated Strategic Maneuvering . Tremend CEO Marius Hanganu Bootstraps from Romania . Gesture CEO Jim Alvarez Bootstraps to $10 Million . SproutLoud CEO Bootstraps to $30 Million from Florida . Tuft & Needle CEO Bootstraps to Over $100 Million . Co-founders Bootstrap Linguamatics to Over $10M from the UK . Ownership Matters . Vainu Co-founder Mikko Honkanen Bootstraps from Finland . Entrepreneur Couple Bootstraps to $10M from Colorado . 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