Sramana: You mentioned that the owner sold this company to a private equity firm. What led him to take that step rather than building the company further?
Henry Schuck: The owner was in a place where he was making a lot of money but he did not like the job. He was not in a place where he could wrap his head around hiring a team to run the business, so he sold the business to a private equity firm. That is when I left.
I worked at that firm with Kirk Brown, who is now my business partner and co-founder. He called me after the private equity firm had bought the company and I had gone to law school. He proposed building a similar business based on a SaaS model. This was in the spring of 2007. When Kirk first called me, I was finishing my first year of law school finals. My immediate reaction was to pass. I was doing well in law school and I felt I was too busy. Law school seemed like the safe career path. I did tell Kirk that if he wanted me to consult with him, he could call me back in a couple of weeks when finals were over.
He called me three weeks later and we had a conversation about what could be done. He told me that even if I did consult on the business that he wanted me to be a 50/50 partner. That was the genesis of the business. We mapped out our strategy.
Sramana: What is Kirk’s background?
Henry Schuck: We went to school together. He has an accounting degree from UNLV. He was also a caddy on the PGA before working in sales at a Fortune 500 company.
Sramana: When did you kick off DiscoverOrg?
Henry Schuck: In May 2007.
Sramana: Did you end up joining full time or did you remain a consultant?
Henry Schuck: I joined full time. I left the law firm that I was clerking at. I moved my second year law school classes to the evening. I got up at eight and worked until three then went to law school until nine in the evening. I carried that schedule for my final two years of law school.
That summer I was studying abroad at Oxford University. Between classes at Oxford, we were Skyping and talking by phone about building the business. We had conversations about building the database as well as the marketing list. Our idea was to build a minimally viable product. We felt that 5,000 contacts provided in a SaaS form was enough to get the attention of the clientele.
The beauty of doing this with a focus on IT is twofold. First, the IT departments at these companies tend to have the largest budgets within the corporation. Second, our clients are very easily decipherable. They are companies that sell hardware, software and IT staffing services to technology departments of large companies. It was very defined. It was not like we had to go do mass advertising. We just had to reach out to the director of sales or marketing for that person to see the value in what we were offering.