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Monday, July 10, 2017

Startup: This man built a $1bn firm in his basement.

Startup: This man built a $1bn firm in his basement. Carl Rodrigues says that his family and friends all thought he had lost his mind. "Everybody thought I had gone completely nuts," he says. "They were saying 'what's wrong with this guy? Is he having a hippy moment?'." Mr Rodrigues, a successful IT consultant, had woken up one day and decided to quit the day job. Instead of doing lucrative work for other people, he was going to retire to his basement and develop a best-selling computer product. The significant problem was that he didn't have any ideas. But to the worry of his wife, and scorn of his mother-in-law - who lived with them - he was undeterred. So back in 2001 he shut himself away beneath his house in the Canadian city of Mississauga, and started to try to dream up something. "My goal was that I wanted to see what I could produce if I did something I really liked," he says. "I didn't know what I was going to do, but I thought I would give it a shot." After a month of working "crazy hours", Mr Rodrigues had come up with his first fully formed idea - a software system that allowed the user to control his or her mobile phone from their laptop. Naming his company Soti, sales of the system started to grow slowly, until 12 months later Mr Rodrigues got a phone call out of the blue from one of the UK's largest supermarket groups. The firm didn't want to sell the system to its customers, instead it wanted to incorporate it into its operations, so staff could better communicate and pass on data and other information. Mr Rodrigues, now 55 and Soti's chief executive, says: "I was still in my basement when I got a call from the company, saying they would like to place an order. "I don't think they realized that they were talking to just one guy in a basement, so when the person asked to speak to someone in sales I came back on the phone with a slightly different tone." more