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Brett Shockley: Spanlink Communications

Brett Shockley’s parents were entrepreneurs. His mother taught dance and baton twirling. His father owned a foreign car and repair shop and Shockley started working on car engines at the age of 10.

It was only natural for Brett to create products and services, and sell them, and he got into entrepreneurial activities in junior high school. That is when he learned to ride unicycles in gym class – in fact he became so focused on learning to ride that he skipped other classes to learn and then built his own unicycle because he couldn’t afford to buy one.

When he was 16 he dropped out of high school and started at the University of Minnesota on an early entrance program where he got his B.S. degree in mechanical engineering, and his MBA. He joined ADC Telecommunications following graduate school and he got an introduction to the fast-changing telecommunications industry.

He then spent some time at a manufacturer of products for recreational vehicles. But the entrepreneurial bug was still around, so at the ripe old age of 28, he joined three friends to start Spanlink Communication, Inc. with $3,000 of invested capital.

This was the only equity invested in the venture till its initial public offering. When Cisco wanted to invest in the company, Spanlink went private at a valuation of $80 million. Subsequent financings and transactions over the next few years established a company value in excess of $130 million.

This is how he did it.

This introduction is excerpted from Bootstrap to Billions: Proven Rules from Entrepreneurs who Built Great Companies from Scratch by Dr. Dileep Rao. Copying or reproduction in any format or medium without the prior express, written consent of the author is strictly prohibited.

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