Founded in 1991, Terraine, Inc. has undergone several metamorphoses. And today, it’s poised to transform once again into a new (and lucrative) venture for Co-Founder, Program and Project Manager, Jim Young. But while Jim set his focus on the next chapter in his entrepreneurial story, he wasn’t ready to turn the page on Terraine, and he needed a way to sustain operations while waiting on a substantial contract payout.
Born as an environmental consulting firm, Terraine started out providing environmental investigation work to the likes of state and federal government agencies. It was during this work that Jim recognized the need for technology to collect large amounts of field data electronically on mobile devices where Internet connectivity was lacking or unreliable. This need inspired Jim’s next move with the acquisition of Adesso—a software platform that allows users to create forms, use them in the field to store data locally and then sync that data to a central server once Internet connectivity is restored.
In the years that followed, Terraine’s business boomed. At its peak, Terraine was 25-employees strong and developed mission-critical applications for many large firms, including Duke Energy and American Electric Power.
But as time marched on and new technology and players entered the space, business slowed. Today, Terraine is manned by Jim alone, and its most lucrative contract is with the U.S. Marine Corps, a holdover from its early years as an environmental consultancy.
“We conduct drinking water supply well sampling at Camp Lejeune, a military base in North Carolina,” Jim explains. “That’s done twice a year.”
In between these large paydays, Jim supports the business with application and web development, as well as SEO work. But as Jim puts it, this work is often “small potato stuff” in comparison.
Though Jim soon expects his financial outlook to improve with the launch of XForms (Adesso re-thought and re-engineered), he needed the means to sustain Terraine between the semiannual work on the Camp Lejeune well.
“We have to survive between the time that work gets completed and paid, and the next time,” states Jim. “Financially speaking, everything gets quickly paid off when that chunk of money shows up, and then it’s meager days for a while as little website projects come in and out.”