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The Curious Case of Anthony Davis

Software entrepreneur Anthony Davis learned the principles of free enterprise in a Seattle gang.
photography by Allison V. Smith

Anthony Davis always had a knack for business principles—even when he was selling drugs as a youth for a Seattle street gang.
In 2007 the entrepreneur founded Plano-based 2GO Software Solutions, a provider of software applications for businesses that have remote employees, like pharmaceutical and in-home health care companies.

Davis since has earned the business of more than 300 customers, a figure he expected to triple by the end of March. Davis says 2GO’s fiscal forecasting has the company grossing more than $7 million annually by June 2010. 

But, things for Davis could’ve taken a completely different turn.

Reared in Seattle, he had a typical middle-class upbringing. Then, at age 12, he fell in with the North Side Cartel, a faction of the infamous Crips street gang. Davis had a slight build, a ferocious attitude, and, within two years, was considered his gang’s top producer for marijuana and crack cocaine.

Despite being revered on the streets, watching his gang friends die or go to prison finally became too much. When he turned 16, Davis says, members of a Christian youth ministry called Teen Feed helped him clean up his act. The next year he entered college and, upon graduation, landed a gig at Microsoft as a software tester within the Core OS Group.

He was quickly promoted to performance engineer and honed his code writing skills. Then he got antsy. Davis left in 2002 and, over the next five years, the self-taught Web developer tried several entrepreneurial ventures. But it wasn’t until he moved to Dallas and started up 2GO that things began to click.

Now, at 29, Davis is a self-made man. He says that if hadn’t learned to negotiate with other drug dealers and deliver a quality product, he probably wouldn’t have survived the Seattle streets. Those hard lessons, he says, also prepared him for the legitimate business world.

“Supply and demand is significant,” he says, reviewing what he learned on the street. “Use channels to sell your product that align with how customers buy, rather than trying to invent new channels. Be careful who you trust or how much you depend on others. And discover people’s motives rather than taking them at their word.”