After successfully leading 5 start-ups in Louisiana and Silicon Valley, Bob Miller finally got the chance to live in his dream town: Lafayette. As 'Head Machinist' for the recently created Opportunity Machine, he is pulling together resources at UL and around Acadiana to expand our local culture of entrepreneurship.

Tell us about yourself.

I'm a Louisiana native, grew up in Plaqemines parish for the most part. I was public school educated all the way through university, Tioga High School in the middle of the state, then UL Monroe, what we used to call Northeast Louisiana. I got degrees in computer science and math; back then you had to take 29 hours of math to get your CS degree, so if you took differential equations you kind of got math for free.

Out of school, I got into the start-up world by partnering with a friend who graduated with me. We both played instruments, I played guitar, he played cornet & sax, so we were music guys who were also computer nerds. We created a software firm called Orpheus. I held down a couple of jobs during that period. As a side note, it would have been nice to have had support from something like the Opportunity Machine, with some guidance about focusing on a service or product.

That was all pre-Internet. So right as the web came about I got the opportunity to jump in with Long Distance Savers, which was creating an Internet service provider as part of its services. That was the early '90's, during the dial-up Internet explosion that went down. A lot of long-distance companies layered Internet services onto their networks, even though they didn't know how to do it. In our case, we had customers before we had a billing system. LDS-iAmerica grew and did well regionally, and then was sold as part of its exit strategy to Intermedia, which was later sold to MCI.

At the end of that, I went to work for Frontier Communications for about a year. That was a corporate job, and it reminded me that start-ups were where I wanted to be.

So right on the heels of that, I went to work with US Unwired in Lake Charles. They spun off LEC Unwired which eventually was re-branded as Xspedius, and I became the CTO of that regional telecom company. Later Xspedius merged up with another telecom, e.spire. That was during the telecom bust era, so we went through the local ISP revolution, the subsequent Internet .com bust, and then into local carrier exchange, so you can see a transition from bubble to bubble.

e.spire was a huge company that was bought in bankruptcy and merged with Xspedius. That became Xspedius Communications, which was subsequently sold to TW Telecom.

I went to work as CTO for a little company called Unibill in Lake Charles that did the telecom billing for Xspedius and several other companies. Then I got an interesting opportunity. The people who had bought e.spire and merged it were looking at distressed telecom properties, so they invited me out to the west coast to do due diligence on a company called GlobalStar. When they purchased that out of bankruptcy, they asked me to be Senior VP of Operations for Engineering Product Development and Field Operations. We subsequently took that company public again about 2007. That was a time-limit contract, and I was there right at 6 years. They had gone through three CEO's in the last two years, and the new CEO was a west coast guy, so he wanted to reorganize. That gave me an opportunity to finally go do what I wanted to do.

And I have always wanted to live in Lafayette.