Jerry Reynolds isn’t your average trekie. He’s the man responsible for building Trinity Software Inc. and Backoffice Enterprise Solutions Inc. into the leading MLM software provider and the way he did it is, well, a little less than normal.
Back in the day, Jerry was raised to work for one company until he retired; just like his father and his father before him. So, he set out to do just that after a 4 year stint in the military. Jerry went to work on directory assistance systems and, after 10 years of being with the company, an accountant in corporate decided his team just wasn’t needed anymore.
“I thought, ‘You know what, this is not a good situation to be in. If I ever fail, it’s going to be my own fault.’ That was really the impetus behind me starting my own company.”
Jerry said that being “canned” was difficult for him after devoting so much time to a company so he decided he wouldn’t let that happen ever again. He started up Quest Applied Technologies in the mid-nineties as a software consultant agency for Fortune 500 companies. He worked on large-scale, database driven applications, did some work for Fox Sports Network, and even a little government work.
While working at Fox Sports, Jerry noticed that one of his fellow co-workers just stopped coming to work. Even though he was concerned about the man, he had no way of getting hold of him. After a month, Jerry received a call from the MIA co-worker who, through embarrassment, told Jerry he had left to work for a multi-level marketing company and they were in a little trouble. The software vendor that had set up their payout system had failed and couldn’t deliver the payouts for the companies first month in operation. Doesn’t sound so bad until you take into consideration that the company literally went from zero distributors to 10,000 in their first month.
“Their software vendor left them high and dry; they told them they could deliver but they couldn’t. This new company couldn’t pay all the distributors at the end of the first month so they asked for a band aid.”
Jerry was asked to create a patch, or a band aid, to get the software working in time to pay the first month of commissions. The vendor assured them that the programming would work for the second month but couldn’t help with the first. Jerry got a group of four guys together and they came up with a fix. They created a small application, told the company to run it, and simply walked away. Jerry shelved his program after retaining proprietary rights and forgot about it. A month later, the new company called him up again and said that, this time, the software vendor had completely bailed.
They needed Jerry to create a real software program that would work – all the time. Jerry had to turn his band aid into a real application. The MLM company was one of the first to use a binary compensation plan so there was nothing like it on the market. Jerry and his team started putting some basic customer service modules together and got a real system into place. After a couple of months, he started getting phone calls from other companies that needed the same program.
“At first, I didn’t know what they were talking about. They kept saying ‘binary software’ and, to an IT guy, binary means something totally different. I knew that, if I sold it, the support was going to be a nightmare.”
Jerry decided to test the mettle of the companies that came calling. He threw out a crazy number for a price and see if they really wanted it. He started off with $20,000 thinking they’d balk but instead just asked where they needed to send the check. Jerry ended up selling 12 copies of his program that way with no marketing or effort at all. After the last one, he had gained a lot of experience and called it a baptism by fire into the MLM industry.
He realized that there was an obvious need for a quality piece of software that was not being addressed by anybody. Jerry had insight into the weaknesses of the direct sales world. After identifying that every software vendor was delivering a custom application to each company, he decided to build a system that would allow the core to never change. He built the system on an extendable platform that would allow the rules to change with out changing the program as a whole. He wanted something that didn’t require programming to change the behavior of the application with out being over priced.
“That is what Firestorm is born out of. Reasonably priced solutions. That’s how we got into the world of MLM. To the clients perspective, we’re able to turn on a dime with out doing a lot of programming. Configurability is king.”
I asked Jerry to tell me what were the greatest risks in creating a company like Trinity. He laughed and said, “Financial ruin, emotional turmoil, divorce.” Developing software is a creative, long, drawn out endeavor. He says that the big risk is that people aren’t going to like the software that you’ve built and, if it doesn’t function properly, you could ruin someone’s company. You’d have to swallow your pride, humility, and be willing to go back to the drawing board and try again. He says you have to continue to do that until you get it right. The benefit is that literally hundreds of thousands of people all over the world will be using it and that’s an adrenalin rush. He likens it to writing a best seller for the New York Times.
When I asked Jerry about what makes his company/software better than everybody else’s, he was pretty tight lipped. He trains his people to talk about Trinity’s strengths and not the competitors weaknesses. Trinity’s strength is it’s configurability, reliability, and integrity of it’s team. Not to mention that it was the first to create a software for a binary compensation plan. He also touts his system’s behavioral predictability and ability to recreate errors to find solutions. One of the more easily seen benefits for a company shopping for a software is that the client can implement a lot of changes themselves with out needing to hire a programmer.
“eCommerce is important; if you want to put something on sale, the customer has to call the vendor to change the code. With Trinity, the customer can do all of this on their own. You literally walk through some wizard based screens; no programmer required.”
If you ever get stuck on how to allow the payment of commissions, not pay commissions, and what not, Trinity offers a support staff that is wholly dedicated to answering those types of questions. Firestorm comes completely documented with manuals for those that like to read; and those that don’t can just call.
Firestorm isn’t just for binary compensation MLM companies, though. Trinity offers enterprise class packages that work for all kinds of companies and address specific areas of functionalities that are relevant for different types of comp plans. You never have to worry that your new type of compensation plan won’t work with Trinity as they are constantly adding new functionality as the industry changes.
“Nowadays, it’s very common to have a hybrid company; binary with uni-level backend, or even binary with party plan back end which hasn’t even been done yet. Firestorm is Firestorm and you get the whole package to use what you need.”
Trinity sells their application to in-house clients that go worldwide very quickly so the software can be localized with language support, currency support, and event the back office is presented with localization in mind. Everything switches seamlessly and it’s all driven by the system based on from where the customer is logging in. Firestorm clients can open in new countries with out having to get programmers involved to make sure everything works.
Jerry’s software works so well that he only has 12 employees to help run the company. He says he doesn’t need 30 programmers, nor does he want 30 programmers. He keeps 3 senior level software architects and a slew of personally trained contractors to help out in a pinch. With a core team, Trinity is able to make changes to the software programming with out having loose ends or miscommunication. This makes changes easier to implement and keeps the control.
“Our software is met with rave reviews. People love it and they’re not afraid to give me their two cents. When they call, we listen. We want to make their life easier and not more complicated.”
Since Jerry is a tech guy, I had to ask him a few questions. I started with, “Kirk or Picard?” With out pausing to reflect, Jerry assured me his alignment is with Captain Kirk. He even met William Shatner but still referred to him as Kirk. He calls himself a big geek, a star wars and star trek fan. In fact, with the exception of Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, he’s met all the leading actors in Star Wars. The actor that played Chewbaca lives close to his house so he’s met him a few times; he says he’s really tall.
April 11. 2011 by Staff Writer Lacy Sereduk. NetworkingStar.com All rights reserved 2011
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