Bio: Brent Toderash

It goes like this.

I Grow Up, Mostly

I grew up in a small-ish Manitoba town (it’s now called a “city” but only because the threshold was lowered so they qualify) where I lived about a block and a half from the nearest farmer’s field. This was a comfortable place because you didn’t have to go far to see the stars in the sky or the northern lights — and I saw a lot of both. My family spent countless weekends on my grandparents’ farm, and I got to love the expanse of a prairie sky. If you don’t get that, it’s because you’ve never seen a thunderstorm roll in across the prarie. ’nuff said.

I Get Educated

In high school, I took all the business, marketing, law, accounting, and computer courses they offered. In one computer course, I was exempted from my final exam by setting up a database to enable moving the course work (in COBOL) off the time-share mainframe (which would go down from static on the line) and onto the Commodore SuperPET. At the time, I could pencil-mark a keypunch card as fast as I could type, so I used to decline my turn on the keypunch machine. In another, I submitted a program written in BASIC in lieu of the final exam… the program was large enough (mainly due to the amount of text displayed) that I exhausted all of the Commodore PET’s memory, to the point where I was rewording some of the output sentences to save bytes by shortening them. But that was the early ’80’s, when I hung around after school for 2 hours or more to use the computers. I wouldn’t have my own PC until the late ’80’s. Other than that, I was an under-achiever.

After high school, I worked for a couple of years with my father in the general insurance industry; I was the youngest person in my class when I took the “Qualifying and Licensing” course to get my broker’s license. The class set a new high in the average class mark; I was second-highest, my roommate was first… but he studied in the evenings.

After a couple of years, I decided I should have gone on with my education, so I headed off to Providence College, where I completed an undergrad degree. My first year was a bit shaky, so in my final semester I ended up doing a full year’s course work in order to complete the program without running into another year. I don’t recommend this practice, but with my nose to the grindstone, I managed to pull my GPA up in the process. I got involved with a lot of extra-curricular programs and activities while there. Met my wife, graduated, got married: next chapter.

Marriage, Career, Family:
Check, Check, and Check.

My wife and I took up residence in downtown Winnipeg and I returned to the general insurance industry, figuring I’d make the best money building on past experience rather than starting over in some other field. Over the next 11 years I got to be very good at it, and earned the professional designation of CAIB.  Put my wife through nurses’ training, started a family, passed the Mensa entrance exam with room to spare — just ’cause I had always wondered. Now I know.  Did a lot of volunteer effort in my local church, mostly leadership-oriented.

Hey, I’m an Entrepreneur!

Eventually got bored with general insurance (new variations were becoming fewer and farther between, and I have to keep solving new problems), so I left to become an equal partner in Rainy Day Software Corp.  Rainy Day was a consulting firm and ISP that my brother had started a couple years prior. Since I had already been getting to know the Internet and how to program websites and making my own contributions to what the web was at the time, and since we’d all freshly survived the “Y2K” non-event, it seemed like a good idea.  We took the company from one guy with a cell phone, a truck, and a server tucked away in a closet (literally, a coat-closet) to something in the range of 8-10 staff doing IT consulting, software development, technical support, hardware sales, and website development.  Not to mention taking a small dialup ISP with a little bit of hosting to a full-service broadband ISP with a large wireless network in the rural areas surrounding Winnipeg with a small data center with virtual hosting and colocation services including cages.  Of note, I engineered the business model and the high-level network topology and product selection for our launch into rural broadband wireless, which was then written up for Industry Canada as a case study on successfully launching rural broadband Internet.  Media interviews followed.

In 2006, we began a merger process with a company about half our size that included a larger graphic design department and some technical support services.  Not quite a year later, I decided that it was time for me to take my leave.  I saw an opportunity to exit and try something new, figured I was still young enough to start a third career, and that was that.

Which Brings us to the Present

While evaluating what I’d done and out how I might spend my time next, I realized that all along I had been doing a lot of writing and publishing in various forms.  I decided to move up my goal of writing, and am now spending much of my time on that pursuit.  I now do freelance articles, copy writing or other similar projects.  At the same time, I’m still prone to be pulled into other projects of interest… things like marketing, business model evaluation and revision, or other short-term analysis or project management gigs.  These often involve web-related matters and small businesses in particular, but not exclusively.