Our story, as written by Peter Thomas, Founder and CEO of Averetek, on the company's 18th anniversary.
The tech industry has produced some incredible origin stories, from the Steve’s in a Palo Alto garage, Bill and Paul as kids in the University of Washington computer lab, and the dorm rooms that spawned Dropbox, Facebook, and Google. But for every one of those fantastic tales, there are more pedestrian stories like mine, a business that began as a side hustle before that was even a thing.
And before I get into the story, I’ll give away the end now: At every step of the way I was blessed to be introduced to talented, selfless people. They gave me second and third chances, took risks on us when there were safer available choices, and helped shape Averetek into what it is today. They are our clients, partners, and employees, and some of them have acted the part of all three. Each one, whether consciously or not, invested in Averetek - in the products we sell, the way we provide service, and the way we present ourselves to the world - and for that, I am profoundly grateful.
It was October 2000. I was 26, and my last "real job" had ended with me laid off in a string of dot-com busts. I was a programmer, and like many in those days, had been overpaid for my level of skill and work experience. Feeling discouraged and worried, I filed for unemployment and sent out a few resumes for jobs I didn’t want. I also called a customer of my former employer, who owned a corporate event management company, to see if she had any projects that might be a fit for me. Amazingly, she did. Within a week I was onsite with her at Microsoft meeting a marketing manager named Mike Moore, who had an idea to build an events platform for Microsoft partners. Mike and I hit it off from the start; he had a keen mind for the channel (which was entirely new to me), and although he wasn’t a programmer, he had a strong vision for how software should work. I took the gig, figuring it would get me by for a few months until something more stable came along. Mike named the program Microsoft Partner Events.
Those few months quickly turned into a few years. The program was tremendously successful for Mike and Microsoft partners, and as Averetek continued to support and enhance it, I hired my first and second employees.
A few years later I received a cold call from Ron Hutzul, who worked at Cisco Systems. Ron was previously with a Microsoft VAR and had used the Microsoft Partner Events platform. He wondered if we might like to build something similar for Cisco. I couldn’t believe my good fortune! Ron connected me with Luanne Tierney, Helda Lopes, Laura Bergerson, Julie Knight-Ludvigson, Mercedes Maglin, Roshan Ganjei, and other talented channel marketers.
At this moment I decided to focus exclusively on channel marketing. Before this, Averetek didn’t have a product to sell beyond consulting time; it was a works-for-hire software consultancy. But, I reasoned, if Microsoft and Cisco needed help with partner marketing, how many other companies did too?
It took months of demos and meetings to convince Luanne and Helda to choose us to serve Cisco’s channel. I still remember a one-on-one I had with Helda at the very last “sales” meeting. She looked me right in the eye and asked "Now Peter; you’re going to deliver for me, right?" Gulp. "Yes, ma’am, I promise we’ll work hard for you, and you’ll love it." As quick as I could, I jumped on a plane to Seattle, drove to the office, and got to work! Months later, I was proud to collaborate with the incredible Cisco team to launch Cisco Partner Marketing Central.
Serendipitously, one referral led to another. From the Cisco project, we met the incredibly generous team at SAP, Liz Martin and Lisa Penn, both of whom challenged us to build faster and better things that we ever could have imagined. Later they were joined by Meaghan Sullivan, who would become the best C-level sponsor anyone could ask for.
Our friends at Citrix - Sheralyn Felix, Lori Serure, Tammy Richards, Carlos Muniz, and the late Steven Teh - all were instrumental in helping us understand the needs of channel partners and how to deliver software that was delightful to use. And the list goes on. Kael Kelly, Liz Anderson, and Balz Wyss at Avalara, who taught us what for-partner marketing really meant. Christine Bufalini and Mehow Kulma at RSA, Anne Colbeck and Steve Block at Pure Storage, and so many others, I tell you I am forever in your debt.
Over the past 18 years we’ve built a client list that has exceeded my wildest dreams, and for that I am thankful. But our clients are only part of the story. The rest belongs to the Averetek team, who have dedicated themselves to building a product with unparalleled craftsmanship that is delightful for brands and channel partners to use. John Migas, who joined Averetek as an intern in 2006, and has played a leading role in the launch of every client. Johnny Phan, the embodiment of the American dream, and who stays late to sign off on every deployment. Stefan Ott, a brilliant software engineer who has carried the entire company on his back more than once. Tim Trimble, the consummate utility player and professional firefighter. Adriaan Wakefield, my childhood friend, accomplished software engineer and excellent manager of people. Myles Corbin, who runs the show, and is as cool as the other side of the pillow. And of course, Mike Moore, whose vision, intellect, and sense of humor cannot be overstated. I am so lucky to work with the most talented, loyal and dedicated team in the channel.
Over the years Averetek became a “real” company, and I became its CEO. I was never a great programmer, just good enough to get the job done, but if I have a single strength it is that I can listen, absorb and reflect the talent around me. I retain the great ideas my colleagues and clients share and recall them in conversations with others. As I write this, I’m not sure that’s even a skill…perhaps I’ve just been blessed with a good memory.
For people new to the channel the advice I often give is that they should strive to maintain friendly relations with the people they met and to make introductions whenever they can. The channel is a very small world, and you never know who you’ll be working with (or for) in your next role.
Averetek is 18 now, and that seems like a long time to me. But it also feels like we’re just hitting our stride, and that our best days are ahead of us. I tell you directly from my heart that I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work in this field, at this time, with you, my clients, employees, partners, and competitors.
This is the Good Life.