It was January 16, 1996. A huge blizzard had clobbered much of the Eastern half of the country, but somehow missed Milwaukee. It's a good thing, because it would be hard to start a new business in a blizzard! And for the type of business it was going to be, that was going to be hard enough!
That was the day we opened the doors of Websight Solutions, the company that, fourteen years later, is now known as Trivera Interactive. Internet? What the heck is THAT????
Back in January of 1996, the typical computer was a 133 Mhz Pentium with 1 Gigabyte of storage and 16 Mb of RAM. Java, Windows 95, and USB were all brand new technologies. Data was still being stored on floppy discs with a maximum capacity of 1.44 Mb. Hard core Computer users had been using phone lines to connect to other computers at blazing speeds of 14.4 or 28.8 kbps. For the few who were using it, online technology had consisted of online Bulletin Board systems in a text-only command line environment, but was beginning to migrate to closed systems like AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy.
But Netscape introduced a program called a Web browser and that changed everything. It provided users with a more graphical user interface to connect with computers that had been set up as "Web servers," containing "Web sites." Netscape pretty much had the browser market all to itself, as Microsoft didn't even view the Internet as a viable market back then.
Few businesses did!
Amazon.com and Ebay were only a few months old. Yahoo, at 1 1/2 years of age, was one of the granddaddies of them all. Google wouldn't exist for almost another two years. Here in Milwaukee, the Internet was pretty much only available from ExecPC, who was connecting the region to the Web via a single ethernet cable strung over a cubicle wall to a partner company called Inc.net. Backhoe accidents in Northern Illinois were known to take the entire city offline for days.
Objective observers knew this Internet "thing" was never going to work.
But there were a few visionaries who believed otherwise. I had been working for a software company when I was given the opportunity to be a salesman for one of those visionaries. Four months as an Internet "evangelist" brought me to the conclusion that the Web was going to change everything, but the only way to fully capitalize on it was going to be to start my own company. Fortunately, my employer was deciding to go in the direction of online gaming, and so she allowed me to take my business customers with me. With a client list already including Usinger's and Mitchell Airport and a few appointments set up with companies like Frank Mayer and Associates, Websight Solutions opened for business that cold January morning. A Fourteen Year Journey on the Information Superhighway
Fourteen years, five different office locations, hundreds of clients and thousands of projects later, Trivera Interactive has just moved to a new location in Menomonee Falls. We've been honored to help fuel the success of some our area's finest businesses and most incredible employees.
Along the way, we've certainly had our challenges: a failed merger with a West Coast Web developer who didn't share our values; the dot-com collapse that put so many companies who do what we do out of business; the most challenging small business conditions in decades; the problems that come with using technology in a field that is still in its infancy; Internet charlatans who prey on the unsuspecting and the uninformed; Spam.
We've seen dozens of companies like ours come and go. We've watched as advertising agencies, PR firms and technology companies with no experience or qualifications add "Web" to their list of offerings. We've been saddened to watch so many businesses and organizations make the wrong choice of Web and interactive technology vendors and suffer the consequences.
But through it all, we've held to our original pillars of value, service and integrity. Those values have permitted us to create and build priceless relationships with some of the region's best companies and organizations.
Our space continues to present new challenges: what to do about Mobile Web; the exploding Social Media phenomenon ; new payment security rules that will put the future of many e-commerce sites in jeopardy.
But just as staying true to our vision has brought us to where we are today, we'll face those challenges with those same pillars to guide us into our next 14 years. We're grateful for what we've accomplished so far... but we're just getting started.
Tom Snyder is Founder, President and CEO of Trivera Interactive, a Midwest New Media firm. Tom is a Web guy, wine snob, music junkie, Ex-Milwaukee Radio Guy, HDTV expert, and political wonk.