Kevin Riegelsberger, VersAccounts Small Business Cloud ERP’s Chairman of the Board, is a humble farm boy gone tech leader. From the day that DOS was put on a PC, Kevin began innovating the ERP industry to shape it to what it has become today. Now, with the arrival of small business cloud erp systems, he has returned to reimagine the future of ERP to support modern SMBs.
Learn about how ERP has changed over the past 30 years and why it’s important to change for the future.
Sunil: Hi Kevin
Kevin: Hi Sunil
Sunil: It’s really, very exciting for us at VersAccounts that you joined us. Welcome.
Kevin: Thank you. Really pleased to be here.
Sunil: We are as well and we are really looking forward to your leadership and experience. And today what I’d like to do is just introduce you to our customers and, and other people who are interested in VersAccounts and talk to them about your background and your vision for this industry, and how you see Versaccounts fitting into the future of small businesses. So, maybe we can start a little bit with just talking about your background: where did you grow up, where did you go to school, etc.
Kevin: Sure. I am a farm boy from Ohio. I grew up on a farm, a family farm business. And got into, I was good at mathematics, and this was back in the early 70’s, my mom suggested that if you’re good in math, there are these new things called computers and suggested that maybe I should give that a try. So, I went to college for Computer Science at the University of Dayton is where I started college, I later moved to Southern California and went to the University of California, Irvine for Computer Science. And it was great! It’s been a fabulous career and I’m really glad that I listened to my mother that one time. And got into the computer business.
Kevin: But I started my first computer job in the mid 70’s in Southern California at a time-sharing company, which you probably remember them…
Sunil: I won’t admit to that, but yeah. [laughter]
Kevin: They don’t exist anymore this was before the micro computers.
Sunil: Before the IBM PC and before the Mac.
Kevin: I actually learned all through college on all mainframes and all punch card and teletype machines, and when I moved to California then started getting introduced to minicomputers these other things in college. But…
Sunil: PDP 11?
Kevin: Exactly Right. And my first job at the time sharing company was all mainframe computers and we were selling time out of these big computers because it was so expensive to buy and install them yourself. But I was always interested, and I was a system analyst and would help teach the customer what the different library of applications we had and how to use it. And maybe I would write some custom programming for them, but it was very expensive especially for small businesses. So, when the very first microcomputers came out the, the early Radio Shack and the Apple II-it intrigued me quite a bit.
Sunil: And this is before the IBM PC
Kevin: That’s right. so I started moonlighting from my big mainframe job on the weekends and at nighttime and I was setting up computer system and accounting systems to help small businesses in Southern California to purchase the right accounting system. Then I might write some add on job costing or custom programming for them. And i did that a few times and just said “I loved it” and always wanted to go back to small business and so I chucked the at the big mainframe and started my own consulting business in Southern California and this is the late 70’s. And ultimately out of that evolved what became Platinum software.
Kevin: So, I was doing this consulting business with a friend from college and then one of the people that we sold to was a small wetsuit manufacturer of above water sports wetsuits in Huntington beach, California and we sold him a Radio Shack model III with a ten megabyte hard disk that was big and that was great. He was one of the businessmen that had the idea that we ought to create something better in accounting software for these micro computers. And not much after that the IBM PC got announced.
Kevin: And then that was our catalyst to say that we are ready, this looks like a great opportunity – and this is the 81-82 time.
Sunil: This is about that Bill Gates decided to put DOS on the IBM PC and everybody, the whole bunch of other people getting other kinds of ideas.
Kevin: So that was the start of the company that we formed- Platinum Software which is now called Epicor, there were three founders and there were seven of us people and we bootstrapped it completely with no investment money. But it was just a fabulous ride all the way through the 80’s and 90’s was just constantly growing and a fantastic market.
Sunil: It must have been quite difficult to do at the time because the technology at that time- there weren’t all the kinds of tools you needed etc. right? You had to do a lot of inventing and creating for yourself which you probably don’t have to do today.
Kevin: That’s right. Well, the early product was written and compiled in Basic it had some assembly language to talk to file sharing or a file system that was fairly robust at the time, called Retrieve? And so we had to cobble together and write some of our own tools. But then I was always an application’s person, I liked applications not operating systems and compilers, so we focused a lot on what the application need to do for the customer. What were they demanding? and this was all SMBs the typical smb market we were targeting. we were one of the first systems that had networked PCs together and made that technology work well. So it was quite a ride and just a lot of fun in the business.