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Just from growing up together, brothers Lyndon and Russell Rive must have endless anecdotes. But starting Everdream Corp., a Fremont, California, 150-employee firm that equips businesses with high-tech solutions like "self-healing computers," Internet access, data backup and support for a monthly fee- really given the native South Africans stories for round the campfire.
You see, before concerns like getting funded and hiring a CEO emerged, Lyndon, 23, and Russell, 28, were just two guys shoving Everdream pamphlets under Santa Cruz (the company's birthplace in 1998) doors. Testing the market, they offered complimentary computer IT services, and, based on their responses, reworked their business model three times in eight months before they secured seed funding from VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.
Lyndon rates door-to-door difficulty a 10 because, come to find out, people just aren't as into free services as you'd think.
But the Rives made their two-man operation appear grander than its living room reality- yes, "little tricks" were involved. If customers called Everdream's 24-hour call center at 3 a.m., Lyndon would "wake up, drink a glass of water and say, 'Good morning. How can I help you?' " The only catch was when customers remembered him from earlier that afternoon.
Three years-plus past its inception, Everdream has a fully manned call center, IBM and SegaSoft Networks Inc. vet Gary Griffiths as CEO (neither Lyndon nor Russell wanted the job), partnerships with renowned tech companies, and projections for a customer roster 25,000-strong by year-end. And thanks to a dozen investors, they raised an additional $15.5 million in funding earlier this year.
With Lyndon the sales guy (he started a mail order business in South Africa and sold it to help co-found Everdream) and Russell the techie (he previously got Internet city guide company Zip2 Corp.'s computer operations center going), stepping on toes isn't a problem. But with the company's growth, missing each other is. "We see each other in the evening and say 'How'd it go on your side?' " says Lyndon.
That's what e-mail is for.