What does "prate" mean?

What does "prate" mean?

From http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prate:
To talk long and idly : CHATTER

Eno River Sunrise

Friday, September 6, 2013

Lucky 13 for Overture

Overture Logo circa 2000
Today is the 13th anniversary of when Jeff Reedy and I incorporated Overture Networks, right here in RTP at the First Flight Venture Center.  As I have written elsewhere in this blog, the year 2000 was a difficult time to start a telecom equipment company, and there was plenty of pain along the way.

Even so, it has been a tremendously rewarding experience seeing Overture grow.  We started with ideas being discussed in Jeff's kitchen on Saturday mornings, and grew to a company with hundreds of employees, tens of millions in revenue, and a customer base that is almost unbelievable to people in the industry.

How did we get this far?  A lot of blood, sweat and tears is a given, and a healthy dose of luck factors in.  However, those factors apply to just about every small company that grows past the embryonic stage.  What did we do that helped us make it?

If you asked 20 old hands at Overture, you would probably get 30 answers.  Since this is my blog :-), you will get my view.  Here are some things that I think were a factor:

Overture Logo circa 2008

Sell Something

We had an early focus on finding an application for our product that somebody would actually pay for.  They say you don't know what the price of something is until you sell it.  That's very true.  It's also true that you don't know if anybody wants your offering until they buy it.  Because we were able to win some early business, we knew the aspects of what we were offering that actually had some value.

Watch the Dollars

It's very difficult to get money in the door, be it through venture funding or sales.  It's very easy for those same dollars to find their way back out the door if you don't watch them like a hawk.

Here's one example of just how frugal we were.  When it was still just Jeff and me we landed a meeting with a service provider in the Denver area.  A flight from Raleigh-Durham to Denver was quite expensive, but a flight to Kansas City was pretty cheap.  I also found a western airline with low fares between Kansas City and Denver.  I hatched up the following itinerary:
  • Day 1: fly from RDU to KC and spend the night
  • Day 2: fly from KC to Denver at oh-dark-thirty, meet with the service provider, and fly back to KC
  • Day 3: fly from KC back home
That brilliant plan left only the matter of an inexpensive hotel.  I found one online, and we were all set.  There was just one small problem: we were sharing a room, and the second bed was a foldout couch.  The first night one of us took the bed and the other took the couch, and we swapped the next night.  Never again!
Overture Logo today

Be Honest and Open

This applies to your customers, your suppliers, your employees and yourself.

Like the People That You Work With

This is easier if you only hire people you like, but that's not possible.  Given that reality, liking your co-workers means taking an active role in seeing the best in them and ignoring or working to change the worst.

What's in Store for the Next 13 Years?

Hopefully a liquidation event that makes the employees and investors of Overture very wealthy!  Setting that possibility aside, I hope that Overture continues to grow and prosper, whether as a standalone company or as a part of a larger combination.  Wish us luck!


  1. Nice article - I'd team up with you all over again, except maybe get separate rooms in Kansas City.

  2. Here is an update for the 15th anniversary.