MURRAY BRACK, SEISWARE’S CEO, SHARES HOW HE GOT HIS START IN GEOPHYSICS AND HIS JOURNEY TO BECOMING AN ENTREPRENEUR
*This is how I remember the events. I have been known to embellish from time to time so take it for what it is – my story as I remember it.
When I finished my geophysics degree in 1988, I started my first job at a large, multi-national corporation. I had no idea what an entrepreneur was. While this job provided me with a lot of career opportunities, I was burnt out working long days that stretched into the evenings and weekends. After five years, I jumped at the opportunity to join a small, startup software company in Calgary.
The interview process was grueling; a discussion over lunch, a brief meeting with the company founder, and I was in, joining their team of 12 (13 including myself). After the first week, I told my fiancé that it was my dream job. The company was dynamic, fun, and full of energy. The company felt boundless and had a confidence that bordered on cockiness. I started to meet others in the industry that had started up their own companies, and I looked up to them. To me, they were larger than life. Why did they start their own companies? How were they funded? What idea had so much influence that they were willing to take such a huge step?
I asked our founder a lot of questions, over beers, of course. He shared that the idea for the company started with a sketch on a napkin, a request from a client, and a few friends willing to bootstrap the idea. I was happy to be along for the ride. The next five years had many ups, some downs, friendships made, and memories that will stick with me forever. Most of us knew we were part of something special and lived every moment.
The business model for the company allowed customers to purchase a perpetual license of the software and charge a percentage of the invoice price annually for maintenance and support (M&S model). As the company grew rapidly, the new sales did not keep pace, and not all the clients renewed M&S. The company was eventually sold. People moved on or were laid off, and for those of us that stayed, we watched the company culture change drastically.
One day in January 1997, at the end of the day, a couple of my team members/friends, Ed and Joe, asked me if I had time for a quick chat. The conversation went something like this, “We are not on board with the changes here. The industry is small, and our reputations are very important. We want to start our own company that will offer support for other companies that don’t have a local presence here in Calgary, and we are hoping to contract back to our current company. Are you in?”
Completely taken aback, I responded with, “Are you kidding? I have a mortgage and a family to think about.” They told me, “We are not going to do this without you, but if you’re not in, we are resigning anyway”, and then they said, “We need your answer by tomorrow.” Tomorrow???? Are you kidding me?
I went home feeling confused and agitated. My wife and I spoke about the possibilities, and she’s someone who finds the positives; she stressed how great it was that Ed and Joe wanted me to be a part of their venture, and she also pointed out that I was not happy, and this was a great opportunity for a change.
I met with my future business partners the next day and said, “I’m in. What do we do now?”
Part two of Murray’s journey to becoming an entrepreneur will be posted December 9th, 2020.
Photo credit: Trueffelpix – Fotolia
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