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By Greg Stiles
Mail Tribune

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? We started out as a standard dial-up Internet service provider and today we do full data center services. We've been around since September 1996.

Home Grown
Business: Mighty.Net LLC
Owner: David Hand
Age: 48

Address: 739 Welch St., Medford
Phone: 541-326-4212
Employees: Eight
E-mail: dhand@mighty.net
How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? I moved here in 1979 from Milwaukie, Oregon.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? I was doing Novell networks and PC support and building computers. I saw the Internet was coming, so we formed the company in a partnership with Medford Computer. I made the move to basically keep myself from becoming obsolete. When I started that, I was billing out my time at $75-$100 an hour. That was the maximum I could make. There is a ceiling to what you can make working by yourself. When you start your own business, you eventually learn to leverage yourself through other people. Six people working six or seven hours, allows the business to earn more.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? I would have learned to recruit and manage quality people better. You want the client to be completely satisfied, so I did everything myself and kept really tight control of things. I wish I would have learned to leverage myself sooner. Now we have eight people working with us and I don't do any much of the actual work. I focus business marketing and establish the vision for the company. If I could have learned to have more quality people with me earlier, I could have grown faster. People who get successful learn to utilize the resources around them better.

What's the toughest business decision you've made? The toughest was to let go of those things, but it turned out to be the easiest. When you've had clients for 20 years and then the next thing you know they're not talking to you, they're talking to somebody else, it's a change. This client got you on the map, made your career and now they're working with someone else. I've been fortunate that all of that has turned out well. It's amazing once you get really good people, how good they can really do.

Who are your competitors? In today's environment, it's really more of a world where there are competing data centers in major markets. Where Mighty.Net is headed, the competition will be from other data centers around the country. Being high-tech in Medford you have to do everything and do more services to remain solvent. If you write software distributed nationally, it's irrelevant. But when you do services a lot of people use, you better keep up with several areas so when one barrel is dry you can tap the others.

What are your goals? We want to be one of the first in the region to provide a hosted desktop so people don't have to rely on PCs in their houses. We want to remove the complexity of using a computer. Instead of going to Costco and buying a computer, we want to hand you a box so whatever you want to show up, shows up. How we want to grow the business is by learning to market and package the service and then go across the country and franchise the concept. Everything would be the same except you'd get rid of the box, all the data would be here. We've determined 25 to 40 percent of the computer market would be in that niche.

What training or education did you need? I went to Southern Oregon University and got a degree in marketing, which is fundamental to business. There are two kinds of successful businesses that I've encountered: People in the right place at the right time, and companies that know how to market.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Focus on marketing and management. Marketing allows you to determine where to put your dollars. Management is learning to leverage ourself through people, getting them excited to be with you and stay with you. Having quality people is the number one thing for becoming bigger than you are.

To suggest an idea for this column, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com

Written By: Greg Stiles

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