“We did everything we could to maintain the status quo. My office was a laptop in my home while we worked to keep the wheels on the wagon.” – Shane O’Donnell, former CTO, Oculan
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RALEIGH — Oculan and its “Purple Box” are back in business eight months after the rapidly growing company was shut down without warning by its investors.

Two veteran entrepreneurs in Minneapolis, MN purchased the assets of the firm last fall, hired an Oculan executive to revive it from virtual stasis, and it has moved back into office space in Raleigh that was vacated when the stunning shutdown occurred. Eight former employees have been rehired. Oculan is looking to hire more as production of its network security “Purple Box” devices resumes.

“No one was more stunned than we were, given how successful we were, when the funding was cut off and we were closed the next day,” remembered Shane O’Donnell, who is now the vice president of marketing and business development at Oculan.

Investors led by George Soros’ Private Equity Partners pulled the plug on Oculan and its 50 employees last May 20 when an agreement could not be reached about acquiring new funding.

Minnesota duo takes over

Tom Kieffer, founder of computer services company Agiliti, and C. McKenzie Lewis III, founder of Sherpa Partners, eventually stepped in, purchasing Oculan’s assets. Kieffer acts as chairman of the new company. Lewis is the CEO. Sales and administration functions will be handled in Minneapolis while production and development will continue in Raleigh.

“We’ve been very tight-lipped about what we were doing,” O’Donnell said about the revival.

O’Donnell, who had been chief technology officer at Oculan, stayed on after the shutdown to deal with Oculan’s extensive network of resellers and to provide technical support. He received no pay but was offered a commission once Oculan’s assets were sold.

“There was enough going on that I knew I was OK for an interim period,” O’Donnell said. “I wasn’t doing this out of the goodness of my heart. It was a pretty safe bet that whoever bought the assets would also be interested in who built them. I was important to them, too, for the other relationships I had established.”

Robert Davis, the last CEO of the old Oculan, and O’Donnell represented the firm in a search for new buyers. Davis remains working for Oculan now as a consultant.

A Purple Box believer

O’Donnell also said he retained belief in Oculan’s technology, which won several awards and was good enough to convince 140 resellers to sign on across the country.

“Many of them were ticked off when we shut down,” O’Donnell said of the re-sellers. “These folks were understandably livid about what happened because they had invested in us.”

However, 80 percent never left or have since returned to Oculan’s network because of the equipment’s value. O’Donnell explained. “Many have told me ‘I’ve got customers’ needs to me; I’ve looked, and I couldn’t find anything else. No one else offers the functionality we do at our price point.”

A couple of other Oculan workers volunteered to stay on and help O’Donnell work with customers and resellers while the search for new buyers went on. “We did everything we could to maintain the status quo,” he said. “My office was a laptop in my home while we worked to keep the wheels on the wagon.”

Oculan: www.oculan.com