A few years ago, infantry officer Clarence Briggs was examining his own post-Army options and determined that small businesses had no efficient way to represent themselves online. So he and several colleagues decided to apply their military computer training to this category and establish a one-stop Web hosting business, with a difference: It would not be located near nor dependent on the existing computer industry. And it would not echo the careless or random behavior that has sunk many cash rich companies. So Advanced Internet Technologies was born.
“We are organically grown,” said Briggs of the company, which currently hosts 75,000 domains and continues to add 4,000 to 5,000 a month.
Marti Frucci, vice president of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, said AIT is well positioned in the hosting category, adding that hosting is at the epicenter of three growing industries — telecommunications, software and IT services.
“As the number of Internet users explodes, companies will be compelled to have an increasingly sophisticated presence on the Web,” she said. “Most are realizing that they cannot handle this themselves and will continue to outsource their Web needs in growing numbers. AIT has already put a big stake in the ground and secured a large number of these companies. Its customer base has been growing at a rapid pace and, fortunately, this is not a business where customers tend to change vendors very often.”
“We are organized in a very efficient manner.” Briggs said. “In the military, you gain a level of focus and maturity that you do not find in your average startup company. This is not rocket science, it’s just business. And we know how to take people ‘off the street’ and train them to a high level of efficiency in a very short time.”
Throughout its growth the company has followed a direct, disciplined path. “If you develop bad habits no amount of funding will compensate for them,” Briggs said.
At present, the company has about 70 employees. Most of them aren’t exactly ‘off the street,’ but have been recruited from nearby Fort Bragg.
The company, which took in $12 million during 1999, was initially financed by its founders, who used credit cards as seed money. By the beginning of this year, they decided to seek outside funding opportunities for the first time. “We’ve refused offers in the past,” said Briggs. “But we are now sending out invitations.” He expects the first venture round to be completed sometime this year. And they wont take money from just anywhere. Said Briggs, “These jobs arent leaving Fayetteville.”
“The management team and culture is extremely unique,” said Frucci. “Having been a skydiver myself for a number of years, I was intrigued by the fact that the top management was comprised of former airborne officers. Probably more so than any other company, there is a cohesiveness, team spirit and goal-oriented atmosphere that will drive them to exactly where they want to go.”
Briggs, for his part, takes the military metaphor to its logical conclusion.
“We view the market as a battlefield,” Briggs said. “And we can’t imagine not making a profit.”
In a Nutshell:
Company Name: Advanced Internet Technologies
Address: 536 Ramsey Street Fayetteville N.C. 28301
Contact e-mail address: [email protected]
Web address: http://www.aitcom.net
Number of Employees: 70
Total Funding: $12 million
Investor: Self funded