Route 50: Flashbacks of a Digital Entrepreneur
January 27, 2016
At the very heart of Venture Stream is our founder and MD, Vic Morgan. Today he shares with us some of his memories and life adventures, leading up to this point in time and with high hopes for the future of Venture Stream.
I’ve explored life as a 1st generation child in the digital world – I turn 50 in a couple weeks and looking back across the years, I see an intriguing collage of life experiences signposting the interconnected physical and digital trails of my work adventures…
My first childhood memory at about month 9 – old-school building blocks – build it, tear it down, repeat.
A carpenter’s helper to my father, a man who knew how to build stuff. Proper sturdy stuff with frames not wireframes.
10 years old, I was drawn to read Walden by Thoreau, and was fascinated by the notion of life in the woods.
Spent most of my teens on the beach in Westerly, Rhode Island surfing the possibilities of life.
Watched Live Aid on TV in tears along with 1 billion other people. Knew that day my life would extend far beyond American shores.
Whilst at university, interned at IBM on an internal Intranet system and won the naming competition with the ever so corny “VADERs”, short for Vendor Accounting Directory & Educational Review System. See what I did there?
First job out of university, served as a Federal Reserve Bank examiner travelling to tiny towns and colossal cities putting the financial world right.
Carried state-of-the-art “portable” Compaq computer. Spent most time using it in hotels writing business plans.
Accepted into Harvard MBA programme, celebrating with a beer listening to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.
Once enrolled, psychological career assessment indicated I was best suited to be a Park Ranger – seemed too late to turn back!
I stumbled upon an early incarnation of Yahoo on a 14K modem and I could see an entirely different wilderness.
Thought this new thing called the Internet meant people one day could work anywhere with a connection. Needed to know where so packed my bags and drove around America including all of Route 66 whilst reading Kerouac’s “On The Road”, naturally.
Returned to Harvard to discover it was now called “The Information Superhighway” – go figure.
Wrote a business plan for using the Internet to find cheap rates on credit cards. Scrapped idea, as life took slight detour when I was diagnosed with cancer – had surgery 10 days after my graduation photo was taken below with my Mom and Dad.
Moved to New York City to work as a management consultant – first gig was imagining the future of media.
It was already amazing to see what people were willing to pay to access the Internet, given how little you could do with it in those days.
My Dad died and I took time off work to connect with nature and learn photography – the three-image collage below took me hours in the dark room to create – could be produced in Photoshop in 5 minutes today. Ran a cancer fundraising campaign incorporating the image – raising money for The Points of Life Fund I created.
Co-founded my first dot-com, oneNest.com to help bridge the digital divide by promoting handmade products from producers around the globe. Future Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus of Grameen Bank was a Board advisor.
Went through a phase being fascinated by labyrinth design, the quintessential UX – embodied in IKEA store layouts!
My office that sunny morning of September 11th was about 1/2 “ to the right of the Twin Towers in this pic. It took the life out of the business which was sold within a year to National Geographic’s e-commerce division.
Made pilgrimage to UK first living in York, England, an interesting reverse historical commute. Bought a Garmin GPS device and dreamt up a crazy idea for a digital service for checking-in based on location.
It was going to be called Waldenpoint…
Which looks strangely similar to Will.iam’s logo! Never got to basecamp with that idea.
Co-founded PointOV, a digital agency committed to working with values-based organisations with a strong “point of view” and making a difference in the world.
Did a lot of work for fair trade leader Traidcraft including launching them into the e-commerce world.
Designed and developed a social networking site for Traidcraft to support their campaigning activities.
On training trip to Malawi visited local Church where listening to choir children singing inspired me to apply concept of fair trade to music. Started a record label called Fair Trade Media, sold thousands of CDs in support of producers.
Sold a ton of white bands for Make Poverty History campaign in 2005, the 10th anniversary of Live Aid.
We designed and sold our own cards and t-shirts, too.
Developed and operated New Consumer Magazine’s ethical shop under novel venture management partnership.
Created Ethicalsuperstore.com, an ethical department store selling gifts, gadgets and groceries. Ditched first brand “Zero Point Zero” after first few months, as no one got the “point”!
Ethicalsuperstore.com became the leader in its field, which it still is today.
Personally placed first ever Google advertising campaign on The Eco-Kettle which went on to sell over 100,000 units.
Ethicalsuperstore.com sold to fulfilment partner Spark Response, who continue to operate as a successful business.
Travelled to America to be with my Mom in her final days.
Founded Venture Stream whilst reminiscing with my Mom and pondering what I wanted to do when I grew up.
My first piece of (unpaid) work was for organic baby clothes business Frugi – my Mom helped write the words!
Team Stream: the evolution continues!
Today we have lots of amazing clients including a number of leaders in ethical and family run business.
Venture Stream, at the cross-roads of e-commerce innovation…
Reflecting that I’ve laid many foundations over my career as a digital architect of structures in the ethers.
Floating between Earth and the skies above, perhaps I’ll become a drone ranger when I grow up? Watch this space!