Career:  Anthony Anthamatten

“You may ask yourself, how did I get here?”

-Talking Heads

I have asked myself that question many times. The path that led me to the place I am today could not be planned or taught in a school of higher learning. 

Today, I work as a UI/UX designer, software developer, and solutions architect. I’ve had the pleasure to help great companies such as FedEx, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and so many others do amazing things with technology. Since becoming a consultant in 1997, my resume is eight pages long when all the projects I’ve worked on are included. 

Fate of a Boy Scout

When I earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1984, the Boy Scouts of America had a mentor program that asked what career you would like to pursue? That is a very big question for any kid and little did I know how my answer would impact my life. 

My response came easily when I said, “television”. I was fascinated with how television is made and began volunteering at a local cable company in my hometown of Memphis, TN when I was 13 years old. It was there I learned how to run camera, switcher, audio and lights. It was a low-budget affair with terrible programming and I worked for free. But that experience was invaluable and would come in handy for what came next.

My father almost had a heart attack when I brought home a $50,000 professional video camera at 14 years old.

(he survived and so did the camera)

Believing in Someone

I believe in kids. Sometimes I get a little worried about their influences today. But I am proud to be the person they ask for advice. Believe me I’ve been down some roads to answer their questions honestly.

People believed in me. When I was 25 years old after eight years working in television, I resigned from everything and sat my skinny butt at a dining room table and wrote my first business plan in a bathrobe. I poured over it imagining a company called GrafxLab in 1992. There was no Internet or smart phones. People were on 386 computers. But somehow I saw the future coming.

The first bank I walked into with that business plan gave me a $30,000 loan with no collateral. They believed in me. Take a risk even if you are going to lose money on something you believe in and I thank that bank for believing in a young guy like me.

GrafxLab

After that small loan I began the company, GrafxLab. I spent it buying a used Silicon Graphics computer and a beta recorder and we were off to our start. Such humble beginnings and I set up shop in a tv production company called 35 Park in an old movie theatre in Memphis, Tennessee. They didn’t charge me rent because I had no money and they needed graphics. It was a great match. 

 

 

The studio where GrafxLab got it’s start was in an old movie theatre. I saw the first Star Wars movie there.

The Toughest Job

I didn’t have a backer or an angel with money. We didn’t have a line of credit. As the studio I was so proud to build grew to 12 employees, it cost me $50,000 per month to pay our bills. That is real money and let me tell you the title of CEO means nothing when you are the last person to be paid. 

I worked my tail off for us 16 hours a day, sleeping in 4-hour increments to cover that bill. I didn’t make any money but we were proud of what we were doing. I’ve kept a pair of shoes I walked the soles off to remind me how many miles I walked during that time.

Failure

Somehow I managed to scrape $50k per month for that company but it was 2 companies that screwed me. One bankrupted an $80k invoice and another slow paid me $10k. My staff didn’t get two paychecks and our lights were about to be shut off. I had to make the call to shut GrafxLab down because I couldn’t ask my staff to lose another check. They would have died on the sword for me but I couldn’t let them do it. 

I cried to see something I worked so hard for die, not because we didn’t do our part. People didn’t pay their bills and they killed a bright company with so much hope.

I felt like a failure because I wasn’t born rich.

A New Beginning

After I made the tough decision to shut down the company I poured my heart and soul into I had to come up with a new plan. It didn’t help that two years later the dot.com bubble happened and investors threw money at anything .com. It is what it is. I could have been a millionaire having one of the original and most talented companies in that sector but it’s not how it happened.

In 1997 I became a consultant working in a number of technology roles as a software developer and designer, a position I maintain today. But the role I’ve enjoyed most is sitting down with businesses to help them create solutions using technology to do amazing things. 

 

I look at client’s projects from a 30,000 foot view where time is money and the goal is to win the game.

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