Continuing our coverage of entrepreneurship far away from Silicon Valley, we bring you a conversation with Mike Carter, CEO of eGroup in Charleston, South Carolina. Typically, these environments have bred bootstrapped companies, and bootstrapping using services continues to be a popular method. Of late, incubators and accelerators are also cropping up, and building a more sophisticated ecosystem.
Sramana Mitra: Mike, let’s start with the beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised? What kind of circumstances leads up to the entrepreneurial story?
Mike Carter: I was born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina which is a coastal town here in the Southeast. My parents are both originally from the area but I grew up all around the country and some places abroad. My father was a career air force fighter pilot. That meant that he spent a lot of time traveling to different military installations around the world and as a by-product, I grew up in that environment. When I returned to Charlestown for college, I went to a military college called The Citadel. I ended up staying and getting a degree in Computer Science. I’ve been an enthusiast with technology. My passion is what got me into business. That’s what my classical education along with a desire to succeed coming from a military household brought.
Sramana Mitra: When did you come out of college?
Mike Carter: I got out of college in 1992. While I was in college, I had the opportunity to join the American military but that was a really bad time to be getting in. It was the time when Bill Clinton was coming into office. It was after the First Gulf War. There was a big draw down in the American military. I had to find a different plan. I was very fortunate to leverage my enthusiasm for technology along with my degree and get connected to a very fast growth technology startup here in the Southeast.
At that time, networking and the Internet was just skyrocketing. It was a thrilling adventure that just spawned and incubated so many different ideas. Along that path, that company got acquired. Things tended to re-prioritize and refocus through the mid 90’s as that acquisition occurred.
In 1999, I had the opportunity to really embrace my own passion with the support of my wife to execute on an idea I had. It was an emerging trend in the technology marketplace about delivering applications more efficiently to the end users who needed them. We had concepts like server-based computing. We had great companies and technologies that was really enabling these solutions – groups like Citrix and Cisco. We could take, embrace, and build in to this solution for our client organizations around workforce mobility. They needed that with personalized service too. There was a distinct market opportunity within my part of the geography within the United States to really bring those solutions to market with just absolute focus and emphasis on delivering the experience .