Jeff Leventhal has built four businesses in the domain of ‘work’ and has created a blue-print of managing distributed workforces on behalf of companies. All four businesses have monetized well for this serial entrepreneur who really has the magic touch!
Sramana: Jeff, let’s start with a bit of background. Where were you born and raised?
Jeff Leventhal: I was born in Florida. I was raised in New York and I lived in New York City for 20+ years. I now live on Long Island where I was raised.
Sramana: Where did you go to school?
Jeff Leventhal: I went to school on Long Island and then went to college in upstate New York. I finished college in 1990, but I never graduated.
Sramana: What did you do after college?
Jeff Leventhal: I went to work writing software for a company based in New York City. I worked for them for about a year and then I launched my first company.
Sramana: What was the first company you founded?
Jeff Leventhal: My first company was a business called LANSafe and we wrote software that helped companies manage networks. We built out SNMP platforms and tools that gave IT managers insight into what was going on in their infrastructure.
Sramana: Was it a product company or was it a services company?
Jeff Leventhal: It was a software company. We did sell the software on a subscription basis, but we did not sell it as a product per se. We based our pricing on the number of servers that we were monitoring or based on the number of network devices we were monitoring.
Sramana: What happened with that company? How big did the company get and what was the outcome?
Jeff Leventhal: The company reached a few million dollars in revenue before we sold it to a larger company. That company was ultimately acquired by a multi-billion dollar company. I believe the product is still in use today.
Sramana: When did you sell that company?
Jeff Leventhal: The timeframe of that company was 1992 to 1995.
Sramana: Did you bootstrap that company or did you raise any money?
Jeff Leventhal: That company was 100% bootstrapped. In fact, my first three companies were.
Sramana: The first company is important because once you have a successful exit, you have personal capital to invest. The first company is pretty tricky.
Jeff Leventhal: It really is. Maybe I should go back to my time right before college. In high school, I started a home improvement company, and I sold that company for about $100,000. That was pretty good for a high school student.
Sramana: How much did you sell LANSafe for?
Jeff Leventhal: The first company was sold for just over $500,000. There were three partners in the company. We tried hard to make something work for three years in New York City, and after selling that company, I felt like I was on top of the world.