The History of Sequoia – Part III
…Wherein we learn about start-up accounting and get an interesting take on the value of a website
(Part II can be found here)
It is intimidating to create the infrastructure to get funds under federal Contracts and Grants. Our heroes needed a trusted expert to set up the accounting systems. Ms. Diana Suzuki had been the head of accounting at the company where Yogi first served in Seattle. Diana’s support would prove to be invaluable over the years in working with the government’s auditing agency DCAA.
With a 600 square-foot space on the third floor of the Globe Building in the north-east corner of Mercer Island, Washington, the company began with 2 full-time Founder employees, and a remarkable engineering student employee, Lino Verna. The space was filled with equipment from Yogi’s prior research for the US Navy.
Sequoia’s first funding came from a 2-year research contract within the Coastal Mixing and Optics (CMO) program managed awarded by Dr. Kravitz. The first task: prepare for CMO fieldwork and produce the first commercial versions of LISST-100. The 3 employees began filling timecards and drawing salaries from January 15, 1995 – the company’s Founding Day. Sequoia’s very first order was from a scientist in Germany. A second order came from the U.S. (this second LISST-100 is apparently still functioning well at the University of Maine). A series of orders from US Navy-funded contracts launched the company with a two-year horizon. A burst of orders from scientists working in marine geology established the LISST-100 instrument. The company ended its first year in black!
As Sequoia established itself, Chuck proposed that the company needed a website. Yogi’s now famous response was: “Why do we need a website?!” As it turns out, Sequoia today has an extensive website with remarkable depth of knowledge encompassing details of our instruments, the theory behind them, our software, and an extensive library of white papers. Quite different from our first website…
In Part IV we learn about product development and get to meet some new employees!