ServInt at 18
Saturday, ServInt turned 18 years old. That’s a lifetime in this industry – basically the entire life of the commercial Internet. I am writing to specifically congratulate Reed Caldwell on the accomplishment of building an organization from scratch that now, if it were a person, would be considered an adult.
I wanted to write this article because I’ve been here since the very beginning, watching ServInt grow from an idea Reed had while in his college dorm room at the University of Richmond. I was also attending UR where I was one of his closest friends, and even then a close adviser and sounding board for his ideas, which at times sounded crazy to me. But sometimes crazy ideas work, and are what drive us forward!
Reed was passionate about the way the Internet was exploding back in 1995, and about giving people the tools to build their ideas on this new, exciting platform. He was so passionate that he decided he was going to lay it all on the line to start his idea for a company.
Reed spent nights and weekends working on documents, brainstorming names, sketching logos, and building a business plan on what it is he wanted to do. At the time, there were really only “shared hosting providers” out there – but Reed wanted to empower businesses – ones that might need the power of an entire server to do their work. Though we loved using the word “dedicated,” at the time, the term “dedicated server” wasn’t even out there in the world. Shortly after ServInt launched its hosting products touting the power of an entire server, another company came out with a product they called a Dedicated Server. This was all uncharted territory.
Reed used a credit card and a small loan from his mom to get started. He used most of it to build a small network and get space near a regional telecommunications hub, and then he spent the rest on a single full-page ad in Byte Magazine, which netted him his very first customer. It was just him, so he treated that customer like gold in hopes that he would refer others. He did, and Reed began growing ServInt’s business exclusively on the strength of customer referrals.
As ServInt grew, Reed encouraged an atmosphere that was sort of a cross between campus culture and a family dynamic. I graduated from the University of Richmond and joined Reed in his dream, as did many others. The family grew, and ServInt became something incredibly important to all of us. Now ServInt is something that is a point of pride for not just Reed but our customers, our employees and their growing families as well.
So I wanted to take a moment to publicly congratulate Reed on what he’s managed to build. An 18 year old organization that’s self-funded on a dream to help others achieve their dreams is rare and commendable. I, and many others, are excited to still be a part of that dream all these many years later.Christian Dawson is the Chief Operating Officer at ServInt