Making Waves

Choppy Waters

As Wilson was traversing the halls of government, he was also falling deeper into debt. Other than Rogers' $90,000, he'd gotten only verbal commitments from potential investors. And as the permit process dragged on, even those sources dried up.

"I originally thought it would take six months [to start the company]," says Wilson. "But then six months came and went, and I hadn't gotten anywhere. By the time I pulled all the [permits together], people had pulled out, saying, `What else is going to go wrong?'"

By June 1994, Wilson had all the necessary permits but no money to get the venture rolling. After pouring every dime he had into the business for two years, he was $250,000 in debt. Wilson played his last card by calling CPA acquaintances from his former corporate job. Through them, he found an investment firm that quickly went to work, finishing Wilson's private stock offering and raising $1.25 million in two months. Wilson was ready to open for business.

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This article was originally published in the June 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Making Waves.

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