René Lacerte is the founder and CEO of Cashview, a Web-based cash management solution delivered as a SaaS. Prior to Cashview, René founded PayCycle, which I covered recently. In this interview, we will trace the thinking of a serial entrepreneur who brings substantial SME and SaaS expertise to the table.
SM: René, I would like to start by reviewing your background. Where are you from, where did you grow up and where do your entrepreneurial roots come from?
RL: I come from four generations of entrepreneurs. My great grandfather had a couple of general stores, and my grandfather had seven businesses. His first was trading fish with [North American] Indians when he was teaching English to the Indians in northern Canada. He was using his salary to buy and trade fish.
After teaching English for a year, he returned with $5,000 in the bank. His father had told him whatever he came back with, he would match. When his father matched his $5,000, he had $10,000 to put up his own general store. He also did a lot of innovative stuff in the farming area in Canada, after which he got involved with citrus in Florida, which was followed by data processing in the 1960s for accountants and small businesses. My dad joined him in the 1960s and is now on his fifth business, all of which have been targeted at small business financial services. I have cousins who have started a company called Lacerte Tax, which was targeted at accountants to serve small businesses.
SM: So you were immersed in the culture of small business-focused businesses and soaked it in.
RL: Absolutely. I grew up talking about starting businesses and running businesses around the dining room table.
SM: Where did you grow up?
RL: In Winter Haven, Florida. I was born in Virginia and moved to Florida when I was ten. My grandfather had picked Florida because of the weather. He had trouble deciding between River City and Winter Haven. In Florida he could grow citrus, which he soon discovered was a shady field at the time. He would agree to purchase a bushel of citrus for $1.50, and when he returned the following week, the individual who shook his hand then told him that the price was $1.65. This led to him getting out of that business very quickly which is why he shifted to data processing for small businesses. That was in the late 1950s, early 1960s.
My dad and him sold his company to ADP in the late 1970s. Payroll has been in the blood for a long time. The funny story is this; the night I was born, which was in Washington, DC, there was a particular job which needed to get done which my dad did not trust anybody else to do. This job involved a lot of punch cards, so my mom was carrying around 50-pound trays of punch cards to load them into the sorter, it was all accounting stuff, and that threw her into labor and I came out three hours later.