Scot Wingo is the president, CEO, and co-founder of ChannelAdvisor. Prior to launching ChannelAdvisor, was a co-founder of AuctionRover.com, which was acquired by GoTo.com and became GoTo Auctions. Prior to AuctionRover he was the CEO and co-founder of Stingray Software, which was acquired by RogueWave. Scot received a BS in computer science from the University of South Carolina and a master’s in computer science degree from North Carolina State University.
SM: Scot, let’s start at the beginning of your story. Where do you come from?
SW: It all started in 1968. I’m from a little town in South Carolina called Aiken, and our only claim to fame is that we’re near Augusta, Georgia, where the Masters golf tournament is. Most golf people know where Aiken is, but nobody else does.
My father was entrepreneur, and I think that had a big influence on my eventually becoming an entrepreneur. I went to undergraduate school at the University of South Carolina to study computer and electrical engineering. I then went to the Raleigh-Durham for grad school, where I got a master’s in the same area.
SM: What did you do after you graduated?
SW: I had a professor who was very entrepreneurial. Even though my father was entrepreneurial, I had not initially been leaning that way. The turning point for me came when I received two job offers after grad school. One was with Motorola down in Austin to work on the chip that eventually became the PowerPC. The other was for a startup in Connecticut. I had met a guy at a summer job and he moved to Connecticut to start a company. I talked with with my professor and he told me that you can go to work for Motorola anytime but startup opportunities are rare. I really liked that I would have a big impact at the startup. I was going to be one of the first two to three employees whereas at Motorola I would’ve been a dweller in cubeland.
I accepted the startup job in 1992. The company was Bristol Technology, and they helped convert Windows applications to Linux. I joined and managed the engineering team. One of the first things I did was recruit one of my friends from NC State, Aris Buinevicius. He is a first-generation Lithuanian immigrant. We both got along well because we had a great work ethic. I would be working in the computer lab at 3 a.m. and he was there. I would go to bed and come back at 7 a.m. and he would still be there. I knew then if I ever to worked for a startup that I had to call the guy. He graduated six months after I did and also moved up and worked for Bristol.
We really enjoyed working there, and after three years we really got a feel for what it was like to grow a startup. At that point we had 60 people in the company and a lot of customer interaction. However, we really wanted to move back to the North Carolina area. We both left Bristol together and started Stingray Software in 1995.
SM: What was the premise behind Stingray software?
SW: We develop tools for Microsoft Visual C++. We built add-on libraries and components for that suite. We grew that company organically, and three years later sold it to RogueWave software.