Blog Post

Un-SQL Friday 001 : Branding for Business


I really like Jen’s (MidnightDBA,#sqlawesomesauce) idea for the first Un-SQL Friday. I was struggling with the topic and had to read some of the posts from earlier today. No one had written from a business perspective yet, so I decided to write about my journey and branding for my company, Gerasus Software. I own and operate a single person ISV formally known as a microISV. Just because most of the branding effort is geared toward building the business does not mean I have no interest in helping the SQL Server community.

Let’s go back to 1998. At that time I was a DBA in Clearwater, FL. A group of us decided to start a user group. The Tampa Bay SQL Server User Group was born. Buck Woody (Blog|Twitter) and I worked together at the time and he was involved. I presented quite a bit back then. Information was scare. Support from Microsoft was limited. It was hard work. I was active in the replication news groups. That was defeating because someone from the UK would answer all the questions before I woke up. I also questioned why am I doing this? I moved on to another position and disappeared from the group. Buck took over as President of the group and you know the rest of that story.

Fast forward to 2003. I had moved back home to the Chicago area and was working on a large server migration. There were several hundred DTS packages that needed to be examined to determine how to work around connection objects with ip addresses and names that pointed to the old servers. I needed a tool that would search DTS packages. I start throwing together some VBscript to do the searching. It worked well enough. I looked for a commercial product, but found nothing. I had also been reading how Redgate got started and was inspired. Since there was nothing to search DTS packages on the market, I decided I would write a utility and sell it. Gerasus Software and DTS Package Search were born. I have a strong development background and really enjoy coding UIs. It gives that visual gratification that writing SQL is missing. I finished and launched the version 1.0 of the program in 2006. After adding improvements I went about adding SSIS support. Version 2.0, SSIS-DTS Package Search was released in 2009. Now I could come up for air start focusing a little more on branding.

Seth Godin says you should tell a story and here is the story about the name Gerasus. It is made up word. It’s difficult to come up with a company name that unique. This one is personal and says something about me. My parents are German, there is the “Ger”. I was born in Australia, adding “aus” originally and I grew up and live in the US. So we had Gerausus which was a bit clunky. It was shortened it to Gerasus. People do have trouble pronouncing it. The “a” is short like sat. Not so much of a branding win.

Since there was no other product like that on the market at the time, I could name it the words people would search on Google. Branding win.

The support from Microsoft is huge now. Visit Bizspark and see. I am fortunate to be enrolled in that program and get those benefits. Plus I get to play with all the latest stuff.

I discovered twitter and have a personal and business account. I really enjoy answering question on the #sqlhelp tag. I do some marketing on twitter, but mostly try to help and have fun. I started to blog and keep the posts technical and helpful, not just about the product. I started speaking again with a presentation on SSIS which is definitely about branding. I am also putting one together on Powershell, because I find it interesting and it will help me to learn more about it.

I went to my first SQL Saturday in Chicago this year and gave away copies of SSIS-DTS Package Search. The organizers Wendy Pasterick (Blog|Twitter), Aaron Lowe (Blog|Twitter) and Ted Krueger (Blog|Twitter) were very supportive. I also was fortunate enough to attend SQL Saturday 40. I’ve since started donating to copies of SSIS-DTS Package Search to every SQL Saturday since midsummer. It’s been great working with the organizers. I’m glad that I can support SQL Saturdays with prizes and help make them better and bigger. I will be much more involved in the next Chicago SQL Saturday.

Being the owner of a company has force me to learn many new skills and one of those is branding. It’s important. It’s been a great year for the company and I look forward to continuing to help SQL Saturdays and the SQL community at large.

So now that I’ve done all this brand building for me, my company, Jen and Sean, I have to ask a question. What is the pain point in your work life? Does someone make a solution for it? No? Then start coding, start building your brand and get that product out there. The community is here to help you and Microsoft is here to help you. Hope to catch you in the DBSsAtMidnight UStream chat room.

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