Chris Cabrera is the founder and CEO of Xactly, a leading incentive compensation management software suite for companies of any size. He has more than two decades of successful senior management experience at both early-stage and public companies and has managed sales, marketing, operations and business development. He is also the co-author of “Xactly Sales Compensation for Dummies.” Prior to founding Xactly Corporation, Cabrera was the senior vice president of operations for Callidus Software. Before joining Callidus Software, he ran North American channel sales at Silicon Graphics. Cabrera earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California, and a master’s degree in business administration from Santa Clara University.
Sramana: Chris, let’s get started by reviewing your background. Where do you come from? What are the roots of your entrepreneurial journey?
Chris Cabrera: I grew up as one of five kids. Originally I was brought up in Boston, although my family moved a lot. I moved to Northern California for high school. My father was a serial entrepreneur at a time when being an entrepreneur meant you were a bootstrapped entrepreneur. My household was very entrepreneurial. I worked with my dad every summer in his office. >>>
Jake is the co-founder and CEO of SheerID, an online shopping cart platform which provides instant, seamless group verification. For more than 15 years, Jake has focused his career on entrepreneurship and small business growth. He has traveled the world to teach business and marketing planning to small businesses, consultants, large enterprises, universities, and government organizations. He co-authored the province of Alberta, Canada’s Tourism Marketing education program, developed Pearson Education’s business feasibility analysis software and Integrated Marketing Communications program. Jake is a graduate of the University of Oregon.
Sramana: Jake, let’s start by reviewing your background. Where did you grow up? What put you on your entrepreneurial path?
Jake Weatherly: I grew up just outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was raised by a family of Michigan Wolverines. I grew up with a “Blue and Maize” room. I got into skiing and ski racing and really enjoyed it, so I broke with family tradition and did not go to school in Michigan, instead I went East so I could focus on collegiate ski racing. I attended Middlebury College my freshman year and destroyed my shoulder while I was there. I was laid up the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. My then-girlfriend, and now wife, and I decided that it was time to head West. >>>
Kevin O’Connor is a serial entrepreneur with a track record of success. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in electrical engineering in 1983. He was the founder and VP of Research at ICC, which was acquired by DCA in 1992. He was then the founder and CEO of DoubleClick from 1995 to 2005. He also operated O’Connor Ventures from 2001 to 2009. He founded FindTheBest in 2009 and is currently the CEO.
Sramana: Kevin, let’s start with some of your early story. Where are you from? What circumstances did you grow up in?
Kevin O’Connor: I grew up outside of Detroit. I always knew I wanted to be an electrical engineer. When I was 12 and 13 years old I used to go around and pull electronics out of the trash, like old TVs, and make stuff with them. I figured that I would get a PhD and go to work for Bell Labs, hopefully picking up a Nobel Prize or two. I wanted to be an inventor. >>>
Jeff Nobbs is the founder and CEO of Extrabux, a highly regarded shopping rewards site. He co-founded Extrabux as a student at the University of Southern California in 2006. Two years later, Extrabux was submitted to the USC business plan competition, where it won first place.
Sramana: Jeff, let’s start with the beginning of your story. Where are you from? What are the circumstances that led up to the Extrabux story?
Jeff Nobbs: I am from San Diego. I was born in Northern California and spent two months there before I decided it wasn’t for me! I grew up in San Diego and went to college at USC in Los Angeles. While I was at USC, I started Extrabux with my co-founder, Noah, a guy who lived two doors down from me in the dorms. We started it as a side project while we were at school, and it stayed that way for a few years. >>>
Matt Mickiewicz, who was named to the Forbes Magazine “30 under 30″ list in 2012, co-founded 99designs. The company has hosted more than 200,000 design contests and paid out more than $50 million to designers, while winning a 2010 Webby Award for “Best Web Service” and raising $35 million from Accel Partners. Matt has also co-founded Flippa.com, which has helped entrepreneurs sell more than $70 million in websites and domain names. INC Magazine named Matt to their “30 under 30″ list in 2011.
Sramana: Matt, let’s start at the beginning of your story. Where were you born and raised? What is the story that prepared you for your entrepreneurial career?
Matt Mickiewicz: I was born in Poland under Communist rule in 1983. A couple of years later, my parents immigrated to Germany to avoid Communism. They had four-hour lines just to buy a block of cheese. I lived in Germany for just shy of five years, until 1991. My mother worked in the service industry and my father worked in construction. >>>
Dan Rodrigues is the founder and CEO of Kareo. He founded the company in 2004 with a vision of simplifying medical offices with web-based medical billing software. Prior to launching Kareo, Dan started creating technology for the healthcare industry in 2001 as a co-founder and managing partner of Skematix, a software consulting firm based in Southern California. In the late 1990s, Dan was the co-founder and CEO of Scour, a search engine for finding music and video files online. Dan began his career as a software developer for RealNetworks and Visio. Dan holds a bachelors of science in computer science from the University of California.
Sramana: Dan, let’s start with the beginning of your personal story. Where are you from, where did you grow up, and what circumstances set you on your entrepreneurial journey?
Dan Rodrigues: I was born in Orange County, California. I grew up in a middle-class family. My father was a pilot and flight instructor who turned into a computer programmer and consultant. My mother was in a lot of different roles primarily doing administrative work. Both were entrepreneurial by nature, and both were very interested in computers. They also both taught me to be very independent and the value of hard work. >>>
Aydin Mirzaee is the co-CEO and co-founder of Fluidware (formerly Chide.it), an Internet software company which offers feedback solutions in the form of FluidSurveys and ReviewRoom. Prior to co-founding Fluidware he was the CEO of bOK Systems Corp, and he also has experience working R&D at Nortel. He is a graduate of the University of Ottawa.
Sramana: Aydin, let’s start by reviewing your personal background. What prepared you for your journey as an entrepreneur?
Aydin Mirzaee: I grew up in New York City. When I was 12 years old, I had an interest in entrepreneurship. I started shoveling snow for people and that interest morphed into something more serious when my brother and I got introduced to the web. We started building websites at a young age. We then got into the web hosting business a bit as well. As we went to college, we knew we wanted to build a company of our own, and we wanted it to be a big company. >>>
Eran Yaniv is the CEO and founder of Perfecto Mobile, a company which provides cloud based mobile testing, automation, and monitoring products and services. Prior to founding Perfecto Mobile, he was the vice president of product marketing at Comverse America. He also served as the general manager of the Comverse Mobile Data Division and led a major turnaround in the performance of the division by bringing in accounts such as Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile. Prior to Comverse, Eran was the general manager of the Valisys Quality Management business unit at Tecnomatix, where he also served as the director of research and development at Tecnomatix Ltd. in Israel.
Sramana: Eran, let’s start by reviewing your past so that we can understand where you you’re your entrepreneurial roots. Where are you from, and where did you grow up?
Eran Yaniv: I am originally from Israel, which is where I was born. I spent most of my life in Israel. When I was a kid, I moved with my parents to the U.S. and I lived in Philadelphia for three years. That gave me a good taste of what America is like. When I had to join the army, which is required of everyone in Israel, I postponed my enlistment by three years so that I could attend school and earn my engineering degree. >>>
Tony Jamous is the CEO and co-founder of Nexmo, a company that hosts a cloud-based SMS API which allows high volume transmission of messages at wholesale prices. Tony spent 12 years in the wholesale messaging industry at mBlox and Paymo, where he opened mobile messaging and payment services in more than 82 markets. He managed carrier relationships and helped aggregators and resellers increase their revenues in the fast-growing A2P market. He graduated from IMD business school, the Institut d’Administration des Entreprises , and the Institut national polytechnique de Grenoble.
Sramana: Tony, let’s start with your personal background. Where do you come from? What kind of circumstances did you have in your early life that lead up to a life as an entrepreneur?
Tony Jamous: I was born in 1980 in Lebanon. I spent 17 years in Beirut, after which I moved to France to study computer science. There was a civil war the entire time I was in Lebanon, so for the first 17 years of my life that is all I really knew. That has taught me a lot about having a survival instinct, which is needed by entrepreneurs. That impacts the way I do business. >>>
Scott Skinger is the founder and CEO of TrainSignal, a Chicago-based company that makes computer training for IT professionals. Founded in 2002 it has grown to exceed $7 million in revenue after being bootstrapped on personal credit cards. Prior to founding TrainSignal, he was the president of SAS Technology Advisors, and prior to that position he worked with Computer Learning Center. He studied psychology and graduated from Northern Illinois University.
Sramana: Scott, let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where were you born, and what kind of environment where you raised in that led to your entrepreneurial journey?
Scott Skinger: I was born in Chicago Heights, Illinois. My parents got divorced when I was five. I lived with my mother for most of my life and then moved in with my father when I was in high school. I went to college at Northern Illinois University and graduated with a bachelor of arts in psychology. After I graduated, I decided not to pursue a doctorate. I really struggled for six years trying to find myself and find a career I could be passionate about. >>>