Imagine what Roseann Phillips’s original investment would be worth today

Grandma Roseann Phillips died this morning at the age of 89. She was my mother-in-law. She was also a very special lady in lots of ways. And, along with my older brother, Russ, she was one of the two original investors in Peppercom.

To jump-start our nascent firm, Ed and I had asked various people for seed money. The only two who stepped forward to pony up cash were Roseann Phillips and Russ. Mrs. Phillips gave us $7,500. Russ forked over $5,000. We offered both equity in exchange, but both declined (a seemingly wise move at the time, since conventional wisdom holds that 90 percent of all small business fail within the first three years. And who wants to become ensnared in bankruptcy proceedings?).

Anyway, armed with the $12,500 cash infusion, we set out to conquer the world. Ed created the business infrastructure while I tried to generate some semblance of marketplace awareness. After 60 days of deafening silence, we signed our first client. And then another. Soon, we were in a position to pay back our investors. But, Roseann Phillips refused our money. I remember her saying our early success was the only return on investment that mattered to her.

Roseann Phillips did many things for many people. To an upstart start-up named Peppercom, her money was like manna from heaven. And, it’s not too far a stretch to say that, without Roseann and Russ, there would be no Peppercom today.

Considering the fact that we posted some $14 million in 2008 revenues and were willing to give Mrs. Phillips three percent equity in exchange, her original investment in ‘The Ed and Steve Company’ would be worth a pretty penny today. But, then again, that wouldn’t have mattered to Roseann Phillips. Seeing us racking up success after success was the only reward she sought.

13 thoughts on “Imagine what Roseann Phillips’s original investment would be worth today

  1. What a wonderful woman, and a touching tribute to her. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. I really appreciate the kind words, Brian. My mother-in-law was one of those special people who cared more about others than herself. Seeing our eventual success was the only reward she sought. While I don’t think Ed or I am in the same league as Mrs Phillips, we do try to help where and when we can.

  3. Speaking as someone with first-hand knowledge of the great causes supported by Peppercom’s pro bono work, Roseann Phillips’s faith has been paid forward 1000-fold or more by the good works of Steve, Ed, and their employees. Peppercom’s successes also can be measured in non-monetary terms, as can Mrs. Phillip’s continuing influence on the world. My condolences to the Cody family on their loss.

  4. My condolences to you and your family. The world has cleary lost one of the great investors of our time. Something tells me her investment philosphy will continue to pay off for a long time coming.

  5. I am so sorry to hear of your loss, Steve. My condolences to you, Angie, Chris and Catharine.

  6. One would only hope her inspiration generated a pay it forward aspect. Truly sorry to you and Angie and the children for your loss.

  7. Thanks Art. Your words mean a great deal to me. Like you, when all is said and done, I hope I’ve helped people in their time of greatest need as Mrs Phillips did for Ed and me.

  8. Thanks Trish. People who step up and help others in their time of need are very special indeed. And, that was my mother-in-law.

  9. Love people like her and the stories that go with those types of folks. I’m sorry for your loss but so happy for what she was able to do for you.

  10. A wonderful testimonial, Steve. She sounds like she was a special, and insightful, lady. I hope that one day when I leave this earth that I have made a difference in someone’s life the way she obviously did for you, Ed and all your employees. My sympathies on her passing.