Sramana: Has the print and mail revenue been a revenue mainstay from the very beginning of the business?
Flint Lane: We needed a year because there is some infrastructure and equipment purchases that needed to be made to get the bills out the door. We were profitable within two years. We have been pretty profitable since.
Sramana: You raised $4.5 million from angel investors and VCs, and you said you were profitable within two years of starting the business. How did the fundraising chronology tie into financing?
Flint Lane: Anytime you raise money, you are not doing it just to put money in the bank. In 2003 we were doing well, so we decided to do a small bet on the business by raising additional capital and hiring additional salespeople to go out there and chase new business. We took a hit on profitability for a couple of years after that, but it was a calculated bet. We returned to profitability in 2006 with a great-looking business. Raising money and hiring salespeople allowed us to grow at a faster pace, which is why we decided to raise an additional $4 million in 2006. We were a $4 million business at that time, and we proceeded to invest heavily in sales and marketing and we were not profitable for the next three years, but that was calculated. We returned to profitability as a $30 million business. We raised capital at strategic points in the business and it worked out.
Sramana: Is there a case for doing the same thing again at this point?
Flint Lane: There is a case, and we are contemplating doing something similar. However, we are now exploring growth through acquisition. Last year we bought two companies, and we bought them for their customers. Instead of having salespeople sign customers one at a time, we bought one company that had 75 customers and another that had 200 customers. We are in the middle of integrating them into our platform now and once we are done with that we are going to access if we want that to be part of our business model.
Sramana: Were the companies you bought in order to gain 275 customers private companies?
Flint Lane: Yes, they were. They were smaller companies that had specific customer bases, and we felt we could integrate them into our platform.