In the face of adversity and seemingly insurmountable challenge, many of us find it easier to bend than break; to ‘accept’ rather than defy. But in the case of one ambitious entrepreneur, a challenge only fanned the flames leading to what would become the ultimate triumph.
Like most entrepreneurs, Milton Carrasco, one of two co-founders and now President and CEO of Transoft Solutions’, went through hard times before experiencing a breakthrough. While Milton was working towards his Master’s degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Calgary in the late eighties, he happened upon an idea to simulate vehicles turning within the AutoCAD platform – this ‘aha’ moment quickly became the focus of his Master’s thesis. As a part-time student, he joined several industry-related organizations including the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC). Then one day as Milton prepared for a class, he stumbled on a copy of the Association’s Jan-Feb 1989 newsletter and noticed an article titled “New Turning Vehicle Being Developed”. This was an interesting coincidence.
Later that spring, at a technical meeting in Ottawa, a TAC representative noted that TAC, with the assistance of the National Research Council (NRC) was going to pursue the development of this application independently. “I was extremely upset,” remembered Milton. “A few months prior, I had submitted a research statement to TAC with a request for funds to complete the research for this project. I felt that my idea had been usurped. I was livid. While I believed there might have been a possibility for legal action, I had neither the time nor resources to pursue this avenue. At the very least, it was an unethical play on their part. However as annoyed as I was, I decided to keep quiet and simply continued with my project.”
In the early nineties while he was in the twilight stages of his Master’s program, Milton met a gentleman JD (‘John Doe’ to maintain privacy), a fellow engineer, at the local consulting company that they both worked for in Vancouver. The two quickly became friends yet, unfortunately, JD lost his job soon after. They built a vehicle simulation prototype that was tested on an actual project. The two decided to collaborate on what would later become AutoTURN, now the world’s most widely used vehicle turn simulation software and as the software became a reality, they co-founded Transoft Solutions. With Milton working full-time on his consulting assignments during the day, he spent his evenings and weekends on the product requirements, the business needs and marketing plans, while JD built the software in his free time. “I would send him the data requirements and he would build the software which was based on the constant pursuit method, and then I would keep testing it,” added Milton.
The pair decided to launch AutoTURN in September of 1991, hoping to get some traction. They advertised in trade publications and started to get noticed in the industry. “At one of our meetings over coffee, I recall attempting to forecast the market size for this software – literally on the back of a napkin. Knowing roughly the number of North American transportation engineering professionals, I thought we might sell 300 seats of our software within the foreseeable future. I figured I wouldn’t be able to quit my full-time job based on those numbers. As it turned out, I was many hundred times off base,” laughed Milton.
Read about how the “three-year rule” came into effect as Transoft came to life in the next installment of Our Story in link below.