Terry Rossi

All you need to know

About Me…

On my twitter profile, I call myself as serial entrepreneur, and I guess to some people I am.  I started my first real business before I was 14 years old and with the exception of three years when I was 25 years old I have been an entrepreneur ever since.  For the last 20 years or so my heart and soul has been in building our company PICS which works all over the world and right around the corner.

The Early Years

I started my business life as a disc jockey in a nightclub. Works of Sound DJ’s.   I was 14 years old and my mother had to drop me off and pick me up 4 days a week at 3 am.   I was killing it money wise,  I had a pretty girl, money and a fast car.  I was hanging out with older people and making a lot of life long friends.

I did that all during high school and it was the time of my life. As I mentioned I had a fast car.  It was a Corvette.  1979 white with T-Tops. Remember T-tops?  They were the shit in the 80’s.  Well, I wanted a “car phone” and a high zoot stereo so I started a company called RTC Automotive Trends.   I was an authorized Blaupunkt and Panasonic cellular dealer. – I was 17 years old and running Works of Sound and RTC Automotive Trends out of my mother’s house.

I barely made it through high school,  as a matter of fact, I was tossed out of the prestigious Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in South Jersey but I did graduate from Shawnee High School in Medford NJ with an outstanding 1.6 GPA.    School was never my thing but learning was and is still my thing.

Somewhere around 1985, my cousin Mike, who is like my brother, starting building clones for kids in college.  I was immediately drawn into computers and around that time RTC Computer was born.   We bought parts from a Chinese importer and build 80286 clones with 10MB and 20MB full height hard disk drives.   I can still remember the plastic sticks of ram we had laying all around …like gold.

Somewhere around that time, I discovered modems.  A lightning fast 2400 baud modem.  I think it was a Hayes who were the leaders at that time. I found out about BB’s or Bulletin Boards and I was totally hooked.   I remember loving it, downloading files, meeting people from all over the world and exchanging messages.

The BBS Years

Of course, I had to start a BBS.  The RTC-BBS originally in Medford NJ.

This my 4th business I was running out of my mother’s house.

I originally ran a BBS software called RBBS-PC.  It was written in BASIC, ran on MS-DOS and was free.  It satisfied my needs for a while but I wanted more.  I wanted to network my BBS with other BBS’s.

To do that, I changed my software to PCBoard,  PCBoard was a commercial offering and the de-facto standard for pay BBS systems.

I also changed my BBS Name to PICS Online BBS – back then pictures, GIFS, were the only thing BBS users would pay for.

Back then BBS’s were connected in forum type networks the largest one being FidoNet.  Each night, SYSOP’s (system operators) that’s what they called us. would connect their systems for hours, sometimes 8-10 hours and transfer huge amounts of mail with each other.  I was a Fidonet hub in the Philadelphia area and I remember getting phone bills in boxes.  Long distance was very expensive then and my phone bill was like $600 dollars every month.

Amazing what you can still find in 2017 http://nodehist.fidonet.org.ua/?address=1%3A266%2F22

 

History of node 1:266/22

 

 16 Jun 1989, nodelist.167: ,22,RTC-BBS,Medford_NJ,Terry_Rossi,1-609-654-0999,9600,CM,XB,HST
 26 Jan 1990, nodelist.026: ,22,RTC-BBS,Medford_NJ,Terry_Rossi,1-609-654-0999,9600,CM,XB,HST,UNEC
 24 May 1991, nodelist.144: ,22,RTC-BBS,Medford_NJ,Terry_Rossi,1-609-654-4991,9600,CM,XA,V32,V42b,HST,UNEC,MO
 15 Nov 1991, nodelist.319: ,22,RTC-BBS,Medford_NJ,Terry_Rossi,1-609-654-4991,9600,CM,XA,HST,UNEC,MO
 14 Feb 1992, nodelist.045: ,22,Pics_OnLine,Medford_NJ,Terry_Rossi,1-609-654-4991,9600,CM,XA,HST,UNEC,MO
 25 Sep 1992, nodelist.269: ,22,Pics_OnLine,Medford_NJ,Terry_Rossi,1-609-753-2540,9600,CM,XA,HST,MO,UNEC
  5 Feb 1993, nodelist.036: ,22,Pics_OnLine,Medford_NJ,Terry_Rossi,1-609-753-2540,9600,CM,XA,H14,MO,UNEC
 24 Sep 1993, nodelist.267: ,22,Pics_OnLine,Medford_NJ,Terry_Rossi,1-609-753-2540,9600,CM,XA,H16,MO,UNEC
 22 Apr 1994, nodelist.112: ,22,Pics_OnLine,Medford_NJ,Terry_Rossi,1-609-753-2540,9600,CM,XA,H16,MO
  6 Sep 1996, nodelist.250: Node removed from the nodelist
  4 Apr 1997, nodelist.094: ,22,Pics_OnLine,Medford_NJ,Terry_Rossi,1-609-753-2540,9600,CM,XA,H16,MO
 11 Apr 1997, nodelist.101: Node removed from the nodelist

It looks like I was in Fidonet from 1989 to 1997

The phone bills got to be quite large so I knew I needed to figure something else out.   Remember I was still a kid, making great money as a kid but I had big bills too.

There is a great article called When Bulletin Board System’s (BBS) And Fidonet SysOp’s Ruled The World if you want to know more about the glory days of BBS’s

This spawned my next business.  I got together with a couple other BBS Sysops and started a service called AccuLink.  What Acculink did was allow anyone with an Acculink account and a modem to dial into a LOCAL telephone number and jump on a public packet switching network and pop out anywhere else in the US or even the world.   We were selling this for $4 an hour if I remember correctly and long distance at that time was over $6 an hour.

We built the platform on a Data General Avion machine running DG-UX.   This was my first exposure to UNIX and sometime around the late 80’s.

There was a full blown color magazine at that time called  BBS Callers Digest, then later The BBS Magazine.  I wrote a regular article in the magazine called “The Big Boards”.  My beat was Prodigy, AOL, Compuserve and BT Telecom.  I can’t believe it but I just found an online version of the magazine with one of the articles.

I also found an online reference to us shutting down the Acculink service in 1992.  It states ownership changes.  In reality, the partners had a falling out and we ended up splitting up and shutting everything down.

 

 

From Archive.Org https://archive.org/stream/BBS_Magazine_Volume_3_Number_05_1992-05_Callers_Digest_US/BBS_Magazine_Volume_3_Number_05_1992-05_Callers_Digest_US_djvu.txt
Mr. Richard Paquette, Publisher 
BBS Callers Digest 
701 Stokes Road 
Medford, NJ 08055 

Dear Richard: 

Thank you for your very flatter- 
ing review of Paragon Communica- 
tions/ Accu*Link service in the April 
1992 issue. It was a true pleasure 
working with BBS Callers Digest on 
the interview about the service. 

It is with great regret that I must 
inform you that Paragon Communi- 
cations has cancelled the Accu*Link 
service. Unexpected changes in the 
ownership of the Corporation has 
caused this. Paragon Communica- 
tions is actively seeking a buyer for 
the Accu*Link service, so hopefully it 
will be back on the market, under
new ownership sometime soon. 

Again I want to thank you and 
your staff for the excellent article and 
review of the service and apologize for 
any inconvenience this has caused 
you or your readers. 

Sincerely, Terry Rossi, Director

There is a whole collection of BBS Magazine online at Archive.Org.  
I was on the cover one time along with a picture of my garage full of computers.  
Sadly that issue is not online.

The Start of the ISP

I really don’t know when I started this but I think it was during the three years in my life that I worked in corporate America.  I worked for QAD.INC from 1992 to 1995.   I brought the Internet to QAD and developed an internet accessible knowledge base to QAD after I registered their domain name qad.com along with my own pics.com.

I registered pics.com (and qad.com) in March 1992.   Back in those days, domains were free.   Take as many as you want.

PICS.COM

PICS Online BBS became PICS Online ISP.  This was the time of AOL blowing up.  Every person in America had a CD in their mailbox every 30 days and users were getting online.  I was covering Steve Case and the explosion of AOL for the BBS Magazine so I saw first hand their growing pains.  The biggest problem of all was

BUSY SIGNALS

They couldn’t keep up so they were really the first company to offer a BYO type service.  You could get online using any service and get to AOL.  Bingo I started putting up modem bangs all over south jersey.   Again users could call a local number and get on the Internet and online to AOL.   $19.95 a month and $19.95 setup fee.  Here’s our complete pricing from 1997, that’s the oldest version of the PICS website on the Wayback Machine.  I started earlier than that but to be honest I don’t know when probably in 1992.

All Around the World and Just Around the Corner

QAD was a software company that made a product then called MFG/PRO.  It was ERP or Enterprise Resource Planning software for manufacturers.   I was the US technical support manager.  I was responsible for all of the US installs as well as the US technical consulting.  I was 27 years old and couldn’t even spell manufacturing 2 years prior but I was a quick learner and a good troubleshooter.

I worked with some of the largest companies you know.  Names like J&J, Unilever, Lear, and Alcoa.

QAD was on fire and they had decided, probably because some analyst told them they should, that they should just write software and leave the services to the “big six” consulting firms.

We saw this as an opening,  we were nuts and bolts guys.  We know the QAD software from the inside out.  I could install it and tune it for maximum performance and my partner could help customers customize it to work in their manufacturing companies.

We (My business partner Rich Rosenthal and I) started the company in 1995 and back then the world was a lot flatter. We were young successful guys at QAD but we saw an opportunity to get out and start our own business.

Large multi-national companies were flying us all over the world to do everything from teaching their staff to keep their manufacturing plants on line and operating.

Leading up to Y2K we were printing money.  Companies all over the world had a looming threat of mass computer problems and they couldn’t pay us enough to help us beat the January 1, 2000, deadline.  We grew the company steadily, organically and always by planning the growth against the health of the company.   That’s how we discovered around 2001 that we needed to find some new cheese.

So in 2001, we worked day and night to turn a solution we had developed for a client into a real software product.  In 2001 DocLib was born.

DocLib is a process automation, workflow and document management solution.  I was intimately involved with it until 2008.  About that time I started looking for a piece of software to manage our business.  We had one system called HoTS (Hourly Timekeeping System) that we used for our hourly billing, another system called OptiGOLD ISP for our ISP.  We needed a complete solution.   That’s when I found Connectwise and discovered a whole industry called Managed Services.

In 2008 I spun up our Managed Services division called PICS ITech we offer flat fee IT services to businesses in the Philadelphia area. The advantage to hiring PICS ITech is that we can offer a whole team of IT professionals from CIO’s to PC techs for the price of one FTE. And to be honest we are better at it,  we bring the experiences of over 200 businesses to help our customers build, grow and scale their businesses and the best processes and systems.  Things most small businesses cannot afford.

 

Things I am Learning in 2017

I’m in the process of getting my Ph.D. from the Internet –  here are some things that I’m studying right now

Things I am Learning in 2018