Geoff Allen doesn't hop on the bandwagon--he builds the bandwagon. He started writing software when he was 8. Now, at age 31, the co-founder, president and CEO of streaming media automation company Anystream has already spent most of his business life on the cutting and bleeding edge of technology. On the strength of the Agility software line, Anystream's revenue has grown every quarter it's been in existence, even through the black days when techs were tanking left and right.
The origins of Anystream are easy to trace. Just look at the previous two technology businesses Allen started: Source Digital, a systems integration and interactive media company, and Axicom, a cable TV advertising insertion company that shut down in 1998. Put the two together, mix in the World Wide Web and some forward thinking, and out popped Anystream in 2000. Allen co-founded the company with vice president of research and development Steve Geyer, 45; developer Rod McElrath, 35; and developer Alan Gardner, 56--all from Axicom.
When you ask entrepreneurs about their biggest business challenges, you often hear answers like "raising capital," "hiring good employees" or "expanding market reach." When you ask Allen, he points to the radical tech fallout of 2001. "We went through a period of time when nobody cared what you were actually worth," he says. "It was so inverted that it didn't matter if you had customers, a growing market or revenue. The emotional toll on everybody in our company was something that many had never been through before."
Allen doesn't claim to have the magic pill for an emotional rescue, but he does have a good treatment. "We are significantly more open and honest in this company than the vast majority of companies and certainly more than I've ever been in my past companies. [It's] out of necessity. We're trying to allow people to make their own decisions." One way the Anystream team practices this is by regularly sharing the company's financial position with employees. The result is a business that has weathered the storm in fine form.
Allen doesn't like to offer advice about how to achieve success; he prefers to let his experiences do the talking. "Good ideas aren't enough. Hard work is not enough. The only thing that really matters is results," he says. Building up an untapped market, sticking close to the business plan, raising three rounds of funding, and snagging customers like CNN, ESPN and Weather.com all easily translate into Anystream joining the ranks of the fastest-growing businesses at No. 57 on our listing. If there are any secrets to his company's success, they are flexibility, openness and identifying what the customers want.
Besides the $7.8 million in projected sales for 2002 (up from $3.4 million in 2001), here's another sure sign of Anystream's success: The majority of the rich media audio and video you see on the Web from top news providers like Reuters and CNN.com comes from Anystream's software. And that's exactly what Allen likes to see: results. -A.C.K.