Security is the venture industry’s most active segment. It is also the most crowded segment, and unless you have deep domain knowledge, you cannot play in the business. Aki and his brother do have deep domain knowledge and have leveraged that to build an exciting company.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Aki Eldar: I was born in Israel more than 50 years ago. I’m just past 50. Like any typical Israeli, I graduated high school, moved to military and finished my military duties. I also worked for the Israeli government for a few years. Then, I graduated with a Bachelor in Management and Economics and started my journey in the high tech industry.
Sramana Mitra: What year did you finish your education and enter the industry? >>>
We’re noticing a trend that I have written about in the past: SaaS-enabled BPO, also called Do It For Me (DIFM) technologies. The interview discusses the trend in some depth. Other stories on the subject include our case studies of AthenaHealth, Sabrix, and LatentView Analytics.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born and raised and in what kind of background?
Anil Kaul: I was born and raised in India.
Sramana Mitra: Where in India?
Anil Kaul: I was born in Kashmir. >>>
There are very few true technology product companies out of India that have made it to the global market. Varun Singh founded one of them, ScaleArc. The company is currently headquartered in Silicon Valley and is executing well. Some of the others are: Druva, InMobi, and Freshdesk.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where you were born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Varun Singh: I’m from the north of India. I was raised in Chandigarh before I left and started working.
Sramana Mitra: Did you do all your schooling in Chandigarh?
Varun Singh: A majority of it. I travelled around a bit but pretty much, a few hundred miles of Chandigarh. >>>
Josh is a fellow MIT alum, and a fellow believer in the tried and true methodology that we espouse in 1M/1M: Bootstrap First, Raise Money Later. Josh raised his Series A with $5M in revenue. The company today is growing at 150% year-over-year. Wonderful story!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Josh Manion: I grew up in a little town in Wisconsin called Jamesville, which had about 50,000 people. My dad delivered little snack cakes to grocery stores and stocked the shelves with them. My mom ran a store. It was a Midwest upbringing. The unique element for me was that I was actually homeschooled all the way through high school. That afforded me some unique latitude to pursue some of the things that I’m passionate about. One of which is chess, which I took to some extreme. I actually played as a professional chess player for a couple of years before going to college. I have one sister three years older than me. >>>
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Andy Gotshalk: I’m originally from Boston. I was born and raised there and also finished high school there. I went on to college at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. What I really wanted was Biomedical Engineering but at that time, there weren’t that many schools that offered a Bachelors in Biomedical Engineering. At Georgia Tech, I could pick either Mechanical or Electrical Engineering and then get a certificate in Bioengineering. I officially had a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Certificate in Bioengineering. >>>
Joe bootstrapped his first digital media/ad network business to $50 million in revenue and then sold it to private equity. Later he started a second business, an e-commerce company, that he bootstrapped for a year and then raised venture capital. His third business is a spin-off within the second business that takes him back to his digital media roots.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Joe Speiser: I’m from New York and I went to school in the city. I studied at the Columbia University. I’ve been doing all sorts of businesses from a very young age. I always had a passion for trying to start something from scratch and make a living. My dad is an entrepreneur. I used to work in his warehouse for most of my summers. It definitely taught me a lot watching my dad run a business. I don’t know if it’s something that’s taught or something that you’re just genetically predisposed to. I enjoy it so much. >>>
Tim has built an excellent company with quite unorthodox financial engineering decisions that have played out very well for him. Read this story to learn some out-of-the-box thinking.
Sramana Mitra: Where are you from? Where were your born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Tim Hentschel: I was from the West Coast originally, from as far as Hawaii where my family owns some hotels and also a large tour operation company. I left Hawaii when I was 13 to move to Carmel, California where I went to high school. Then, I moved east to New York where I attended Cornell University for hospitality management.
Sramana Mitra: What time frame was that? What year did you finish college?
Tim Hentschel: 2001. >>>
The InfoUSA founders sold their information service business and reconvened to build InfoFree, a next generation Data-as-a-Service business. The company is funded with $15 million of funding from the co-founders, especially Vin Gupta, founder of InfoUSA, and is in the $5M+ revenue range and is now looking to scale to the next level.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Rakesh Gupta: I was born in India in the Himalayan foothills and did my schooling in New Delhi, which is becoming a tech town now in India. Then I studied engineering at IIT, Kolkata. Then I came to the US in 1986 to do my Master’s in Computer Science and Operations Research. That launched me into the corporate world. >>>
Carl has bootstrapped eMazzanti using services to close to $10M, maintaining a 20% y-o-y growth rate.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were your born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Carl Mazzanti: I was born in Pennsylvania. I come from a military family. A joke that I used as a kid was, “My parents moved around a lot, but I always found them.” Because of that, me and my brother are more outgoing than the rest.
I grew up in New Jersey. I went to school in France, Hong Kong, and Georgetown University. After school, I moved back to New Jersey to be around my family and take a leadership development program with Lucent Technologies. From there, they put me through classes at Wharton and NYU to increase my business acumen. >>>
Here’s a ‘what not to do’ lesson from Lori, except, she didn’t have any choice. A story of resilience that is now turning a corner, preparing for much bigger growth.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go to the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of circumstances?
Lori Steele Contorer: I was born and raised in a small town in Ohio. I was raised primarily by my mother and my mother’s mother. I had a sister. My mom’s sister was also a part of our family. I was raised in a lower middle class family that wasn’t into business or entrepreneurship at all.
Sramana Mitra: What about college? >>>