In 1993, in the spare room of a three-bedroom house in Austin with a sticker reading "Suite 100" on the door, software firm Catapult Systems Inc. was hatched by two former Texas A&M University students.

The company, founded by Sam Goodner and David Jacobson, now is being recognized as one of the 100 fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by Aggies. The group was honored Friday by the Mays Business School's Center for New Ventures and Entrepreneurship.

The inaugural "Aggie 100" was revealed at a campus luncheon to a crowd of more than 600. Businesses that made the cut were unaware of their rankings until their names were called during the luncheon.

Rankings were based on each company's compounded annual revenue growth rate during their most recent two-year reporting period.

MGV Energy Inc., a natural gas exploration and production company with 357 percent growth, was No. 1. George Voneiff, Class of '83, is president, and Michael Gatens, Class of '80, is chairman and chief executive officer of the Canada-based company.

Voneiff and Gatens said receiving this kind of recognition meant more coming from Texas A&M than it would have from any other organization.

"We gained foundations and skills here, and we refined those skills working with other Aggies," Voneiff said.

Gatens said their hard work and determination played a large role in the company's success.

"Success is a journey with a lot of pitfalls along the way, and you've got to work through those pitfalls," he said.

"There were times we thought we were going to fail, but we never gave up," Voneiff added.

Catapult Systems was No. 36 with 29.12 percent growth. Goodner joking attributed the company's success to "sheer luck."

"We worked really hard, and the opportunity presented itself. Then we got lucky," he said. "We really didn't know any better. We went and said, 'Why not? Why not us? We've got nothing to lose.'"

As far as advice for budding entrepreneurs, Goodner summed it up in three words: "Who before what."

"It's not about what business you go into or what city you choose to live in or what strategy you choose to go with," he said. "It's about who you decide to partner with, who you decide to hire, what customers you have and even who you decide to marry."

As a whole, the Aggie 100 employ more than 17,000 people and had more than $3.3 billion in revenues in 2004. To view a complete list, visit

• Arena Welch's e-mail address is


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