Revenge of the nerds
Gavin Manes and his squad of computer gurus help business and legal clients retrieve important electronic data.
Gavin Manes is a self-proclaimed computer nerd. And he’s proud to say so.
“The term ‘nerd’ is really a badge of honor because nerds sort of rule the world now,” he says. “I’m proud to be someone that can use all of our amazing technology to its full potential.”
Manes’ early interest in computers lured him from Dallas to The University of Tulsa in 1996, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and stayed for a master’s and Ph.D. in the same field, while also teaching undergraduate and graduate courses.
These days, he oversees his own computer-oriented company. In his office at the downtown Mid-Continent building, a computer laboratory occupies a portion of the area, wires crisscross the floor, computer equipment sits on tables and technical gibberish (to the average visitor) is scribbled across windows. Here beats the heart of Avansic, a company that specializes in recovering and preserving electronic data for the legal and business communities.
Manes says Avansic helps clients navigate today’s maze of electronic technology.
“In the old days, you produced paper, you photocopied it and you indexed it,” he says. “Now, you have to produce CDs and DVDs. It sounds simple, but it’s actually very complex because you don’t want to accidentally delete something or throw something away because that can severely sanction you.”
Manes says retrieving “deleted” data is not the speedy process presented on TV, but Avansic can recover any document or message “even if a tank truck has run over the information.”
“You can never delete information,” he says. “That is a truth. What you can do is make it economically feasible for someone to recover it. When you hit ‘delete’ on the computer, the file really isn’t gone. It’s there. It’s just going to cost money to recover it.”
Robert Sartin, a lawyer with Barrow & Grimm, says his firm has used Avansic for assistance with digital data recovery in several lawsuits.
“We use Avansic to come in and search the computers of people involved and find information relevant to the lawsuit we’re working on,” Sartin says. “ … We think they do incredible work.”
Since the company started in 2004, Avansic has grown to more than 20 staff members, including a sales team and an internship program. Avansic serves active clients in 17 states and works with clients overseas in England.
Manes says that until recently, most litigation and lawsuits in Oklahoma were paper-based. For example, oil and gas lawsuits involved paper contracts because computer contracts weren’t available decades ago, so e-services weren’t necessary.
“We’re seeing more and more of the computer technology catch up (in Oklahoma),” he says. “We’re seeing that type of litigation occur, whereas on the East and West coasts, the adoption of the computer technology in businesses was a lot faster.”
Most recently, Avansic launched its Online Review Repository, which Manes says was in response to a request from his clients. Staying true to Avansic’s goal to assist lawyers in navigating technology, the program is designed to allow lawyers to collaborate in the review, sorting and tagging of documents being used for litigation from anywhere via their computer and Internet, Manes says.
“Our Online Repository facilitates the review of electronic documents in a very easy and intuitive manner,” Manes says. “You just connect it to Internet Explorer, you open to a browser and you go to our Web site. You can start reviewing documents immediately as opposed to having to install software.”
As his business continues to grow locally and nationally, Manes says he’s happy he chose Tulsa as Avansic’s headquarters.
“Entrepreneurship is here,” he says. “It can actually happen. It just takes a lot of time and energy. Tulsa is a great place for that.”