An Excerpt from the Book:
“One of the strongest indicators of success is grit”
In 1999, Matthew Porter obtained his degree in Applied Computer Science from St. Louis University. Since founding Contegix in 2004, he and his partner Craig McElroy have put St. Louis on the map with a new standard for Data Centers. With awards from St. Louis University and The St. Louis Business Journal, Matthew has been recognized as a leader in the Entrepreneurial community. He serves or has served on multiple boards, including Entrepreneurs Organization, Young Presidents’ Organization, and The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and is an advisor to multiple startups.
When I was 33, my six-year old daughter asked me if I was going to make it to her wedding – she said I felt squishy. She had a point: I attempted to run a mile and I couldn’t do it. Free of social constraints, kids provide these profound insights without realizing it – and then provide the motivation. Three years later, I finished my first Ultra Marathon, a 52-mile trail run in Potosi.
I grew up in Florissant, one of six in a blue-collar Catholic family of modest means. We got by okay, but my parents had limited job security with labor strikes never far from the horizon; when there was a strike, it had a direct impact at the dinner table. This set a tone of caution, which was understandable given the circumstances, but something that I was determined to break free of as I got older.
On Christmas Day in 1983, I got an Apple IIe from my grandfather. This cost $5,000, a fair amount of money in those days. There were some puzzled looks in the family – my grandmother initially wondered if this was to hone my typing skills – but my grandfather saw something in me, and recognized that computers were the future.
As a child, I was shy and withdrawn, and somewhat awkward at sports. But my grandfather’s gift opened a door: I started writing in Basic when I was six years old – it was simple coding, but the programs compiled and they worked. Writing code became my creative outlet, an amazing world that allowed me to be the master of my universe. I rarely program anymore, but I find that I can still get lost in the bits and bytes. Coding is beautiful and powerful.
After college, I got a job at World Wide Technologies, where I met my future business partner, Craig McElroy. In a short while, we developed a deep respect and mutual trust for each other. After I left World Wide, we decided to start a side business, providing customized software programming for small businesses. We soon realized that many companies were as interested in our hosting capabilities as they were in our programming abilities.
At the onset, our hosting facilities were a server box in the basement of my house, which was as problematic as it sounds: Charter had great throughput but was not stable – even a small amount of downtime spells death when you are hosting content. On several occasions, I called home and woke my wife, asking her to type in an obscure data string to see where the hang-up was. This was not building our marriage.
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