Chris Antonius and Mike Zerkel are partial to a particular Peet’s Coffee on Portola Parkway in Irvine.
It’s where they launched one of Orange County’s fastest-growing software development firms, Verys Inc., in 2012. The company name is a play on word for systems and verdad, Spanish for truth.
The two would meet at Peet’s around 8:15 in the morning after dropping off their kids at Myford Elementary School.
Wi-Fi wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now—or free. The frugal pair would take turns buying coffee for an hour of Wi-Fi per transaction.
When lunch rolled around, they would purchase sandwiches, buying a few more hours of connectivity.
“We would literally buy six or seven things to get their Wi-Fi,” said Zerkel, Verys president.
“That was our office for the first three months.”
Though the startup didn’t have a physical address, it had clients lining up, including Walt Disney Co., Sony Pictures Entertainment and Ernst & Young.
“We were drawing revenue month one, and we were cash flow positive and profitable in month three,” said Zerkel, who like Antonius, previously worked at Aliso Viejo-based IT service and outsource provider UST Global Inc., with positions that gave them access to a number of potential clients for their new business.
The UST connections and others from previous jobs, and all that coffee, paid off.
Verys, which provides software, consulting services and staffing for companies, is on pace to hit nearly $20 million in revenue this year, up from $13.3 million last year.
“We’re looking at taking a $20 million company to a $50 million company,” Zerkel said.
Peet’s isn’t their home anymore, nor is Irvine.
Verys moved a year ago from a 5,600-square-foot office near John Wayne Airport to a 16,000-square-foot space in Santa Ana near the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway and Dyer Road where 100 of its 145 employees work.
The company continues to grow. Its website lists about a dozen job openings, including Linux systems engineers and for senior developers in fields like gaming, Python and Java programming.
Verys software is used by clients that need technology help in areas such as application development, web design and cloud services.
Employees at the company’s headquarters, heavy on software designers and engineers, are arranged in teams dedicated to distinct customers. The others are based at client sites, such as American Airlines Inc. in Dallas, Kia Motors America in Irvine, and Stearns Lending LLC in Santa Ana.