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Key Idea: Prepare To Succeed

Remigius Shatas, founder of Avocent, was ready to start a business because he had done his homework and he shifted his thinking from an employee mentality to a problem-solving mentality.   More...

Key Question:


Remigius Shatas worked hard to get a good education and for years he observed what he liked and what he didn't like about companies who employed him.

Q: Why did Shatas take the leap and leave his job?

A: He saw some others with innovative ideas succeed and said, "I got the bug of ambition." He was no longer content working for someone else but he started small by doing computer installation. While doing this work, he observed that there was not enough room on desks for computers, keyboards, a mouse and a printer. That got him thinking about what would become his billion dollar idea.

Think about it

What do you need to learn to prepare you to succeed in business?

Clip from: Avocent - From Founder to Angel

Huntsville, Alabama: Huntsville has become a hotbed for technology startups and there are dozens of people quietly investing in hundreds of businesses, providing everything from start-up capital to mezzanine funding.

They are often called angel investors. Remigius Shatas says, "My goal for Huntsville is that it becomes the most generous city in America." He wants everybody to invest in the good ideas of others!

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Avocent Corporation

Marianne Higgins, Press

4991 Corporate Dr.
Huntsville, AL 35805

Visit our web site:

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1982

Prepare To Succeed

SHATAS: My illumination came when I was working in a grommet factory about 50 miles away from here in a very poor region of the state. And I couldn't get a job back after the space boom collapsed in 1969 and I had to go 50 miles away. And I had a degree in mathematics, but there were no jobs in Huntsville. I started out as a computer operator and became a programmer, and I enjoyed my job. I didn't enjoy the way the employees were treated.

And a lot of times I'd have to work all night to get all the work done; you couldn't do the programming during the day because we were running production. So I remember one time leaving early in the morning, the sun was rising, and I was having to drive into the sun. It was in December and there was frost on the ground and a million sparkles of frost everywhere.

I just thought, `I would like to start a business where people enjoyed coming to work every morning.' I never looked at it as, `I have to start something for myself.' I always looked at is as, "What could I do for the other people?"

I had a lot of ideas, and I watched the ideas done by other people; they're making money on it. After awhile it gets to you. But I was working for a well-known company here in town, and I finally realized that the training that I was getting and the responsibilities that I had at that company would let me go on and do my own business.

And so I got a little bit of confidence. I think I was about 29 years old when I decided, `I do have to leave and do this thing.'

I got the bug -- I call it the bug of ambition -- and I found out the bug of ambition is fatal. Once you've caught it, there's no cure except success. And it just drives your life. I didn't know at the time -- in my early 30s -- that what you have to do is look at markets. I was still looking at products. And the difference between a small company and a large company is the transition between the product mentality and the market mentality.

HATTIE: OK. So are you saying, "Don't just start a business based on something you think you might want to make; look at what the market wants."

SHATAS: Look at what the customers want. The success of Cybex was driven by what customers asked for. We always listened to what the customers wanted. Our very first product was successful because I was the first customer; I'd been installing computers on a contract we had with Marshall Space Flight Center. And I remember distinctly that the PCs that we were installing were PC XTs with 10-megabyte hard drives. They wouldn't fit on the desks.

HATTIE: Too big.

SHATAS: Yes, and I remember trying to give myself bend radius for the cable, and I couldn't get the bend radius for the cable without hurting the printer cable and get the keyboard to fit on the desk. I thought, `This is too big for the desk. We've got to get the computer off the desk,' and that's what led to our first successful hardware product, which we called the Extender.

Well, what was intriguing about it was; I'm a mathematician, not an engineer. Every engineer said it was impossible, and I just didn't believe it. So I came in that Saturday morning and I was kind of excited. I hooked it up in the new way that I had thought about hooking it up, and by that afternoon I had it working.

I was stupefied.

So I left it working over the weekend, and everybody coming in that Monday morning was able to see a keyboard and a video 150 feet away from a computer that was still running. I knew we had a product.

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