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Athens grads start Two Geeks and a Computer

By Holly Hollman · 340-2445

ATHENS — It was not a typical business plan.

Start collaborating in a business/computer class.

Toss around funny names for the company and pick the one that made people laugh.

Oh, and complete high school while starting the new business.

That atypical plan is working for two Athens 18-year-olds.

Preston Marshall and Jacob Evans own Two Geeks and a Computer, and their customer list includes Canebrake, an 850-acre golf course community in Athens.

Class at Athens High

The two have known each other since they were children but ran in different social circles until they ended up in the same business/computer class at Athens High in the fall of 2006.

Marshall, the son of an entrepreneur father who owns a retail/gas/tackle trading post, brainstormed with Evans, son of an accountant mother, about business ideas.

“We were halfway kidding when we were coming up with names,” Marshall said. “We thought the name ought to be funny, like Two Geeks and a Computer, and those in class laughed about it.”

Their Web site includes two stick figures, one in glasses, displayed on a computer screen with the slogan, “If you can dream it, we can do it!”

Starting the business was easy, Marshall said. They got a license through the city. Evans’ father financed the startup. Then they pitched their company to Canebrake.

“We told them we could save them $15,000,” Marshall said. “They were hesitant at first but told us to present them something on paper. We showed them what we could save them on hardware, and after getting our proposal, they decided to go with us.”

The duo now has office space at Canebrake. They provide the phone system, computer support and surveillance for Canebrake.

Marshall said his family and friends have not been surprised by the business venture because he has been savvy with computers since a child.

His senior year he placed fifth in the nation in the cyber security competition through Future Business Leaders of America.

“Big companies don’t realize people can drive up and sign onto their wireless network and get access and hijack information like shopping cart lists,” Marshall said.

Shopping cart lists allow customers to purchase items online.

“Someone can get all their customers’ information, and this goes for doctors’ offices, too,” Marshall said. “Often doctors don’t take computer security seriously, but someone can hijack patient information if they don’t.”

Evans and Marshall graduated in May and won’t be the typical freshmen when they start at The University of Alabama in Huntsville later this month. They will take only 12 hours so they can continue to run their business. If their business continues to grow, they may cut back and be part-time students.

Both are working on computer engineering degrees.

“Our plan is to grow to the point that we can hire others to do the work,” Marshall said.

They’re already brainstorming about providing cable and wireless Internet access to those in the county.

“Since I was 10, I have been told I would be the next Bill Gates,” Marshall said. “I’ve always had a business eye. I guess it runs in the family.”

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