Nick Mehta is the CEO of Gainsight, a B2B company that offers customer success management for SaaS companies with a goal of reducing churn. Prior to Gainsight, Nick was the CEO of leading SaaS e-discovery provider LiveOffice through its acquisition by Symantec. Prior to that was a vice president at VERITAS Software and Symantec Corporation. He has been an entrepreneur-in-residence at Trinity Ventures and an executive-in-residence at Accel Partners. He is a graduate of Harvard, from which he has a bachelor’s in biochemistry and a master’s in computer science.
Sramana: Nick, let’s start this story by getting your personal story. Where do you come from? What is the genesis of your entrepreneurial career?
Nick Mehta: I was born in Massachusetts but spent most of my childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I went to school at Harvard and came out to California after college. I have been living in the Bay Area for around 15 years now.
My parents are from India. My father moved here to work for Digital Equipment when it was going through its heyday in the 1970s. He became a CEO of a number of tech companies and startups. I was thrown into tech startups from the time I was a little kid. I got my first PC when I was six years old, and I was programming at some point after that. That background motivated me to move to California and chase this dream.
Sramana: When did you graduate from Harvard?
Nick Mehta: I was born in 1977. I graduated from high school in 1994 and graduated from Harvard in 1998. I did a bachelor’s and a masters as a combined degree, with a bachelor’s in biochemistry and a master’s in computer science.
In college, one of my computer science classmates started an Internet company called ChipShot.com, which was one of the first online retailers of golf equipment. I decided to move to California after college to run the business full time. I got caught up in the late 1990s dot-com fun.
Sramana: Did you get to the Valley while the bubble was at full strength?
Nick Mehta: Yes. I was here for part of the fun, and then I was here for the crash. I moved to here to run the website full time and lived in my co-founders parents’ house in Saratoga. We worked out of their garage. We raised venture capital from Sequoia and did a number of rounds after that. We grew the company to 250 people and did $30 million in sales. We were on the path to go public but missed the IPO window before the crash.
Sramana: You started that company in college. What drove you to start an Internet retail site as a college student?
Nick Mehta: There were four of us who started the company. Three of us went to Harvard together, and two of the founders were on the Harvard golf team. I always wanted to help create a technology business. We all approached the business from a different perspective. We were classmates in a computer science class. Back then, building an e-commerce site was a lot more raw. We figured it out and built a business selling golf clubs online. In 1996 and 1997 we would get one order a month. It then became one order a week. By the time we graduated in 1998, we were doing $50,000 a month in sales.