Past Projects & Companies I've Founded or Been Involved In...
TV Trax - Perry, Georgia: Long ago and far away (1983 - Perry, Georgia), a partner and I got a wild hair while I was the Hotel Manager at a Howard Johnson's. We decided to develop and print a new publication - several years before "desktop publishing". We created a freely distributed weekly TV Schedule for Houston County, Georgia. I created the TV schedule tables on a Timex Sinclair computer and laid out the publication on a light table. When I was promoted to General Manager of the location we decided to close the publication. Tidbits (Tidbitpapers.com): Tidbits was founded by myself and my wife in 1989, at the beginning of the Desktop Publishing revolution. I had been a route salesman for Schwan's Home Delivery and was making decent money. But my entrepreneurial instinct was strong. We saved up $10,000 purchase a Macintosh SE and founded Tidbits - a twice-weekly news and trivia sheet that was supported by ads and distributed for free in Helena, Montana. I learned desktop publishing, ad sales and business development. This initial enterprise started a career for my wife Janet. She discovered a natural talent for trivia writing, a talent which she used to become a full fledged Author and continues to utilize today. We sold Tidbits (actually twice) and were temporarily removed from operations. Janet also authored three books that were published by Riverbend Publishing (RiverbendPublishing.com).
Keep It Simple Systems: One hell of a ride! Bill Crane and I founded this company to sell, service and train people on the early Macintosh system. Along the way, we developed several products, these included:
The PowerStrap: The original Apple PowerBook 100; 140; and 180 did not include a handy carrying strap that could be attached with the included screws and driver. We sold this product to Chappelle Computer Systems
HomeWorks & OfficeWorks: two sets of nice spreadsheets and working forms for users of the early software titles: Microsoft Works, and ClarisWorks. These templates were bundled and sold in all the retail outlets. Rights licensed to GO Technologies. HomeWorks was later licensed to Claris Corp. and several of the templates were distributed on every new Macintosh computer for several years.
The Keep It Simple Solar System: My wife became a Forest Service Firetower Lookout in the summer of 1987. She was also writing Tidbits at the time and the Apple PowerBooks had just arrived. Fortunately, the early PowerBooks could be fully run with a reasonable sized solar panel. Bill Crane and I pursued the concept and developed a great set of products and solid company from the concept. Here's a copy of the old website from the Way Back Machine. Some of the major achievements included:
We created and had one utility patent approved.
We invented and developed solar powered units to re-charge portable computers and other devices.
I supervised a crew of up to 9 employees.
I sought and received private equity investments as well as loans, including one from Montana Science & Technology Alliance.
I developed business relationships with senior level executives at Apple, Dell, Compaq, Toshiba, and others.
We presented at two major conferences: Mobile Power 1994 and Energy Management Technology 1995.
I developed press strategy and successfully sought articles or mentions from numerous national outlets (NewsWeek, PC World, Beyond 2000 TV show, The Money Hunt TV show, and many others).
I successfully sought and negotiated the sale of the company to Advanced Power Technologies/Powerline Solar Products.
Our investors had a successful exit.
I worked for the acquiring company for one year after the acquisition.
MyTopo.com: I did Business Development and consulting for this start-up from Livingston, Montana. They have a great web-based interface that allows the user to center and customize USGS Topographic Maps and Satellite Images - to create a custom printed, waterproof large format map. They were later acquired by Trimble Navigation.
Timeless Seeds: A great Montana company that processes packages and brokers organic lentils and pulse crops> I assisted with Business Development and served on the Board of Directors.
EthaNext: A short lived startup based in Butte, Montana. I was one of three founders. We worked on development of cellulosic ethanol (ethanol derived from wheat-straw and brewers waste). We obtained a grant from Montana Dept. of Agriculture and set up the initial batch tests, but the partners short-circuited.
Arrogant Bastard Winery, Polson, MT: A startup winery that is in development. Utilizing a unique steam-based extraction method, Larry Robertson is perfecting the art of cherry cordials. Larry has also played a critical role in the formation of the Flathead Cherry Growers Association and the Montana Wine Producers & Grape Growers Association.
Intelligent Funding, Loan Broker Finance Consultant: I offer consulting services to start-ups and firms that are expanding. I have brokered loans of $1 million and up plus minority investments and structured funding involving gold backed bonds and registered issues. These efforts are currently suspended while I concentrate on Project management and other consulting projects.
My Wife's Enterprises: TriviaQueen.com - a compendium of amazing and amusing trivia and stories Janet has written trivia related stories and columns since the 1980's. She currently writes half the issues for the paper that grew out of the empire that we started together - Tidbits the Paper.
Ask me about….
My wife’s appearance on “Doomsday Preppers”.
My lunch with Stephen Hawking and his assistant.
Software that I created that was distributed on every Apple Macintosh computer for many years.