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Building a Robust Business with Eugene (Oregon) Angels Investors: Jake Weatherly, CEO of SheerId (Part 2)

Posted on Friday, May 10th 2013

Sramana: What years were you at WebEx?

Jake Weatherly: I was there from 2005 to 2006. I was there when the company was preparing for an acquisition. It was a fantastic experience and I was fortunate enough to be there during the acquisition. I stayed there for a quarter after the acquisition before I was wooed back to Palo Alto Software. Tim had handed the company down to his daughter and son-in-law. A lot of things that we had talked about for years, in terms of growth and new product pipeline, were officially on the roadmap.

I stayed there for two and a half years and then left because we had our first child and I wanted to work at home. I took a job with the University of Oregon teaching entrepreneurship and innovation, specifically to non-business majors. That was really cool and interesting. I simultaneously took a position as a vice president with a small membership organization called Maverick Business Ventures. The members were all CEOs who would provide us with their bucket lists, and we would look at their bucket lists and put together trips for groups to tick off bucket list items. We did everything from racing down the Baja peninsula in dune buggies to cage diving with great white sharks. We did the kinds of things that a Type A personality would want to check off of their bucket list. It was like a country club without golf or tennis.

Sramana: What year does that bring us to, 2010?

Jake Weatherly: Exactly. In 2010 there was a pattern that I had observed at Palo Alto Software, teaching at the University of Oregon, and at Maverick Business Ventures. At Palo Alto Software we offered a 50% discount to non-profits. At the University of Oregon I was working with students all the time and I saw student deals and discounts. In one case I saw a student trying to buy a new laptop to replace the one she had just had die on her. She had received marketing from Dell for years enticing her to use a student discount, and I watched her pull out her credit card to buy the laptop only to be forced to wait 24 hours and fax off verification paperwork to Dell. She ended up going to the bookstore instead.

At Maverick Business Ventures I was in charge of sponsorships and we were constantly getting calls from companies who had sponsored us and wanted to get their products in our member’s hands. They would call asking if the person was still a member. I would have to go into the database to verify that they were a member before that person could take advantage of the deal.

It became obvious to me that there were companies who were looking at eligibility verification as a customer service problem that could be solved with a customer service solution. Based on the fact that enrolled students are in a database at the office of the registrar, and that non-profit employees are in a database with the government, it became obvious that there was a technology solution to solve the eligibility verification problem.

The technology solution, as we mapped it out, was to create a software platform that allowed questions to be asked which would be answered by authoritative databases in real time.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Building a Robust Business with Eugene (Oregon) Angels Investors: Jake Weatherly, CEO of SheerId
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