Siamak Taghaddos and David Hauser are both serial entreprenuers and co-founders of Grasshopper, which offers advanced phone capabilites to small businesses. Siamak oversees the strategic direction of Grasshopper and serves as the company’s brand visionary while David oversees the strategic direction and operations of Grasshopper and serves as the company’s technology visionary. They met as students at Babson College.
SM: Let’s start with your personal backgrounds. Tell me where you are from and how you came together.
ST: I am originally from Iran. I was born in Tehran in 1981 and I moved to Boston in 1986. I was doing a lot of different things related to business in junior high and high school. In high school I ran a pager business. I distributed pagers to students all over the United States. That is when I first saw the need for a virtual phone system. I had calls and phone calls ringing at the house because clients would call the house where my mom or dad would answer. I knew there had to be a better option for entrepreneurs.
I attended Babson College and was in class with a lot of entrepreneurs, and I quickly saw a need for a solution in this space tailored to entrepreneurs. That is also when I met David.
SM: David, what is your background?
DH: I started a number of companies when I was in high school. I grew up in downtown Manhattan. I went to Babson as well, and that is when I ran into Siamak. We had a shared interest in that we had both started a number of companies when we were younger, separate of each other. We were both really entrepreneurs before we met each other. All of my companies were technology- or Internet-based companies. I founded Return Path in New York City, and prior to that I did consulting online. I started a few Internet companies during the boom days.
SM: What did Return Path do?
DH: I started it with four other people. The company was about email management. It originally focused on fixing bad email addresses. We raised a significant amount of money and acquired a number of different companies. Then the company evolved into email management as a whole. It is still in business today and is doing quite well.
SM: You were both attending Babson together and decided that you were going to start Grasshopper. What was the surrounding infrastructure like? Did you incubate the company at Babson or did you just run with the company yourself because of all your experience?
ST: I had looked into starting this type of company before and I found out that David had as well. When we met we saw that our strengths complemented each other. I focused on marketing and sales and David’s focus was on operations and technology. Our business started outside of the Babson curriculum; however, we did write a business plan for our school’s business plan competition and we won.
SM: Did Babson College play a role in your early days?
ST: We always had access and support from our professors. Writing the business plan and getting the feedback that we did solidified the concept for us. Winning the competition opened some doors for more advice and helped to lay the groundwork for us.
SM: Which kinds of doors did it open for you?
ST: The company was originally called Gotvmail. Winning the business competition helped us win some press. Back then it was rare for kids our age to start a tech company, unlike today when everyone has a tech company in college.
SM: Did you raise money to start the company or did you bootstrap it?
ST: We bootstrapped it and have never raised money. We tapped family for the initial seed money. We have never raised any capital.