"Rides Internet Supernova to Success"
- Anne Batty
Life often hands out lemons. Some people take them and make lemonade. Case in point – San Clementean, Lance Larson, CEO and founder of OC Hosting, Inc., a website portal for Internet service, based in the San Clemente, CA Business Park.
Twenty-year-old Larson was handed his first lemon at age two when he lost his father, a Los Angeles county firefighter, to cancer. Then at age twelve, a literal lemon-to-lemonade-stand robbery of Lance’s $10 business profits, dealt yet another blow.
With true grit, however, Lance moved on. After attending Concordia Elementary School in south San Clemente, he was enrolled for middle school at St. Margaret’s in San Juan Capistrano. As a student there he began earning money running their computer network. At the same time, he created a home-computer repair and networking service on the side.
“At first I’d go out free to people’s homes,” Larson recalls. “Then I began charging $25 an hour, and I thought that was a lot.”
But, being a bright young man, it didn’t take long for Lance to realize he was giving his customers a bargain, and he soon raised his rates to $85 an hour.
Ever the entrepreneur, while squeezing longboard wave riding and attending classes at San Clemente High School into his schedule, Larson added the designing of websites and resale of web hosting services to his repertoire. It was then that visions of his own specialized and individualized, 24/7, web hosting service company, began dancing in his head.
While playing football at San Clemente High, Lance met San Juan Capistrano local, Tim Hollis. Their friendship grew into a business partnership, when both young men agreed to lend their physical and mental strengths to making Larson’s dream come true.
Now Lance’s juices were flowing. He began saving moneys from every source available, paper routes, computer jobs, anything he could do, until he got enough funds together to start his own web hosting company.
That dream became reality in April 2001 when OC Hosting, Inc. opened its doors. “We started out with two servers,” Larson revealed, “and we now have over 100, serving over 2,000 clients.”
With its pulse on the latest innovations demanded by business clients, and word-of-mouth recommendations, OC Hosting, Inc. attracts high profile clients, like Billy Idol and Omega Events. Locals, the Waffle Lady, Merrill Paints and Hotspot, also subscribe to their service.
“Most of our customers are either out of the area, or international businesses who demand 24-hour web hosting, “ revealed Hosting’s vice-president, Hollis. “But lately, South Orange County is jumping on the band wagon and we couldn’t be happier about that.”
Born and raised in the village by a single mom, who supported her family as a registered nurse, Lance’s entrepreneurship runs in the family. His younger brother, Dustin, is involved in a video game testing venture and his sister owns San Clemente Hotspot, a clothing company catering exclusively to teenagers.
With his mom’s strength behind him, Larson learned to set aside any sense of rejection when his customers were skeptical about his skills at such a young age. “Whenever I felt down about things and told my mom about it she just said, ‘Get over it’, and I did,” Lance laughs.
Though still a very young man, Larson’s values speak old-school. His motto for his team of seven co-workers is, “Less is more.” “We don’t spend money on expensive chairs or things that are nice to look at,” he says. “Rather, profit is reinvested to continually upgrade and expand our network infrastructure and servers.”
True to the San Clemente laid back lifestyle, OC Hosting lacks an official corporate conference table. Instead, Lance and his staff have been known to hold corporate meetings, lying on beach chairs, on the office rooftop, while soaking up the rays.
Within OC Hosting, Inc., Larson operates two other computer-based businesses, South Coast Computing, a computer repair service, and OCNames.com, a domain name-registration service.
With all this going on, it might be easy to picture Lance Larson as just another computer “geek” riding high on the technology wave. But that just doesn’t apply here. Besides operating OC Hosting, he attends San Diego State University full-time, and has recently completed a stint at the Reserve Police Academy there. He will be volunteering with the Laguna Beach Police Department this summer, and harbors aspirations of becoming a Deputy Sheriff in San Clemente one day.
“I really enjoy helping people,” Lance says. “It’s a great feeling to be the first responder where there is trouble, and to be able to lend a helping hand.”
It comes as no surprise that Larson was named 2001s “ Southern California Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by the educational Young Entrepreneur.org Group, for the phenomenal growth of his web-hosting company. And, on May 3rd of this year he was also awarded 1st Place and $2,500 in a regional 5-state (CA,NV,UT,AZ,HI) entrepreneurship competition at Loyola Marymount University in L. A.. This coup rewarded him with an all-expenses-paid trip to the international finals of the North American Collegiate Entrepreneur competition to be held in Chicago this November, with a chance to compete against 14 other regional winners for the title “International Young Entrepreneur of the Year”, and $10,000.
Giving encouragement to the next generation of teen entrepreneurs whenever possible, Larson has been a featured speaker at the annual Southern California Young Entrepreneur Conference hosted by Young Entrepreneur.org. His advice for teens is to take a shot at something when they’re young, as it sets the stage for future success and is a great way to learn grown-up lessons in responsibility and problem solving.
Though young in years, Lance Larson has already experienced some of the bitter and the sweet that life has to offer. It has left him with this thought for those who would follow in his footsteps, “If one thing doesn’t work, then try something else. If you keep at it, you’re bound to eventually succeed.”
His own success certainly attests to that.