I did a company in the sales lead generation and qualification space using Artificial Intelligence back in 1998. We were very, very early. It’s exciting to see the movements in the space, and how EverString is succeeding almost 20 years later.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with the very beginning of your story. Where are you from? Where were your born, raised, and in what kind of circumstances?
Vincent Yang: I was originally born and raised in China. I was born in Shanghai. I went to college in China. When I was studying in high school, I was very interested in mathematics. I was one of the few students in high school who didn’t go to any class for help in mathematics and computer science. Obviously, right after high school, I selected mathematics as my undergraduate. I went to one of the top universities in China and studied mathematics.
Sramana Mitra: What year did you finish university? >>>
Sramana Mitra: At the end of 2013, you put in this $17 million. At this point, you have about $20 million of external capital in the company.
Dave Terry: That’s exactly right. Then we put that to work in the exact same manner. It was really proportional. We now have even more international sales. We are setting up more of a presence in London. We’ve had customers that were international businesses but they were headquartered in the US with 60 to 70 offices around the world. We were now starting to get into accounts that are headquartered in London, Canada, or Australia. >>>
Competition in the home services market is heating up. Not only tech giants like Amazon and Google appear interested in the market, but smaller vendors like Thumbtack are also growing rapidly. All this competition is making it difficult for established players like Angie’s List to stand their ground.
Sramana Mitra: What was the concept around which you founded Synechron?
Faisal Husain: The concept was based on being a customer of this industry. I saw a gap in the service that I was getting from the company out in the market. The gap was that they didn’t have sufficient business skills. The whole outsourcing model was very appealing to clients and they wanted to embrace that, but these firms really lacked sophisticated technology capabilities. They lacked business knowledge. They lacked an agile and iterative approach to projects. Those were the gaps I saw.
I left my job at Merrill and tried to start this venture that involved very high-end technology capability combined with very deep business knowledge, and what today we all recognize and call an agile approach. 15 years ago, there was no term for it. We decided on that vision and that’s what we followed. That’s what got us to where we are. >>>
Sramana Mitra: Let’s switch the questioning. Tell us about how your business has ramped. You started in about 2003 and you’ve, obviously, evolved and maneuvered well strategically. What has been your revenue trajectory? Where are you now? What kind of growth rates are you experiencing?
Sai Gundavelli: For the first five years, we were really struggling. We were trying to build the entire product. We were trying to educate the market. Average typical selling price was about $100,000 to $200,000. Later on, I would say it became around $250,000. With the Big Data product, the deal sizes are north of a million dollars. One deal that we’re signing up right now is about $3 million. >>>
Dave Terry: The company had been growing at a really nice growth rate. I think at that point we were in the Inc. 500 list two or three years in a row. We were really funding things out of profits but we had a few investors calling us constantly. We thought that we can keep growing in the self-funded mode, but maybe we should bring in some additional capital. In May of 2012, we decided to take our first round of outside investment. We took $3 million.
Sramana Mitra: What was the revenue at that point?
Dave Terry: We probably shouldn’t say.
Sramana Mitra: If you’re on Inc. 500, that information must have been public.
Dave Terry: Yes. I think we were probably in the order of $5 million to $7 million recurring. >>>
Yahoo’s (Nasdaq: YHOO) results sound like a broken record now. The company continues to disappoint the market and keeps floundering around in the hope of finding a strategy that will work.
Faisal is one of those rare entrepreneurs who have managed to grow his business with no outside financing to significant scale. We discuss his journey here.
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 background?
Faisal Husain: My roots are from India, but I was actually born in West Africa in Nigeria. My parents had moved from India to Nigeria in search of jobs and they were in the education field. My father was a principal and my mother was a math teacher. While they were doing their jobs and building their careers in Nigeria, I was born there. I lived in Nigeria for 13 years. At that point, my parents decided to move back home to India. I was then home schooled for about three or four years, and then came to the United States. >>>