Adding to our roster of Bootstrapping Using Services case studies, here’s PMG from Atlanta.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal journey. Tell us a bit about where you come from, where you were born and raised, and in what kind of background.
Robert Castles: I was born in Columbia, South Carolina. I spent the first half of my life there through to college. I have always been interested in technology as early as I can remember. When I was 11 years old, I begged my father for a Radio Shack Color Computer so that I could take it home and learn how to program. This is while all my friends were looking for baseball mitts, which I also like. I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for that computer, which I got.
My dad then helped me get a job at 15 to write software for a small insurance company. I helped them out. They had a bunch of bad data and my job was to fix their data. I enjoyed that very much. It was a great opportunity. That set my life path moving forward.
Sramana Mitra: What timeframe are we talking about here? What kind of a computer were you playing with?
Robert Castles: The first that I’ve played with and cut my teeth on learning programming was that Radio Shack Color Computer. He did get it for me. I think I had to wait for my twelfth birthday.
Sramana Mitra: What year was that?
Robert Castles: That was 1983.
Sramana Mitra: The reason I’m asking is I’m trying to get a sense of what kinds of computers we’re talking about.
Robert Castles: These were pretty old computers with 4K of memory. The paid job was on an IBM computer. I had moved up to IBM GW-BASIC. That was when I got my first paid job.
Sramana Mitra: What about college?
Robert Castles: I did go to University of South Carolina and graduated with a Computer Science degree, exactly the same as my father.
Sramana Mitra: What about you Joe?
Joe LeCompte: I was born in Chicago. I went to school at Rice University in Houston and got a Mechanical Engineering degree. After graduating, I went into the chemical industry doing research and development. I did a lot in polyethylene and polypropylene. After a few years, I started looking for some different opportunities and went to one of our biggest customers down here at Atlanta. I went from the chemical industry to the packaging industry. We produced flexible packaging for companies like Frito Lay and Coca Cola.
Right around 2000, I realized that I wasn’t very excited about what I was doing and started looking around for different jobs. I was getting excited about hearing all these things about the Internet. Through a friend of a friend, I was introduced to Robert. I took my secure corporate job and decided that I would leverage that into a 50% pay cut and join PMG as a project manager.
Sramana Mitra: You said your friend introduced you to Robert. Robert, at that stage you had already started PMG?
Robert Castles: That’s correct.
Sramana Mitra: What year did you start PMG?
Robert Castles: I started PMG in 1997.
Sramana Mitra: What was the concept of PMG? What was your thinking?
Robert Castles: Way back then, we wanted to build web applications for businesses at the same timeframe when there were a lot of companies building websites.
Sramana Mitra: So this was a service company?
Robert Castles: Yes, completely services based.
Sramana Mitra: Based in South Carolina?
Robert Castles: No, we were at Atlanta at that time.