Jake is the co-founder and CEO of SheerID, an online shopping cart platform which provides instant, seamless group verification. For more than 15 years, Jake has focused his career on entrepreneurship and small business growth. He has traveled the world to teach business and marketing planning to small businesses, consultants, large enterprises, universities, and government organizations. He co-authored the province of Alberta, Canada’s Tourism Marketing education program, developed Pearson Education’s business feasibility analysis software and Integrated Marketing Communications program. Jake is a graduate of the University of Oregon.
Sramana: Jake, let’s start by reviewing your background. Where did you grow up? What put you on your entrepreneurial path?
Jake Weatherly: I grew up just outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was raised by a family of Michigan Wolverines. I grew up with a “Blue and Maize” room. I got into skiing and ski racing and really enjoyed it, so I broke with family tradition and did not go to school in Michigan, instead I went East so I could focus on collegiate ski racing. I attended Middlebury College my freshman year and destroyed my shoulder while I was there. I was laid up the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. My then-girlfriend, and now wife, and I decided that it was time to head West.
We packed up our car and drove west, landing in Eugene, Oregon. We came here sight unseen with an apartment that we leased via fax machine. We got here in September 1996. I had done some internships with the Ford Academy of Manufacturing Sciences, which gave me a little bit of technology experience. In October 1996, I applied for a part-time job at a company called Palo Alto Software and became their eleventh hire.
At the same time I went to college and focused on geography and religious studies. Those were my areas of interest. I was immersed in entrepreneurship with Tim Berry as my mentor. I worked with him really closely. He owned the customer service there, which was very near and dear to his heart. I spent a lot of time honing my skills in both technology and customer service.
After I graduated from the University of Oregon, I worked there full time and took over what eventually became the vice president of customer experience. I was there for eleven and a half years. I took a life-changing trip to China and Tibet with a friend who is a freelance photographer. Tim really wanted me to take that 30-day trip to get out and recharge my batteries. I came back and spent another year or so at Palo Alto Software before I went out to experience the corporate culture.
I was recruited by a company called WebEx to sell their online collaboration services out of their Phoenix office. All of their salespeople measure their time there in dog years. I was there for 15 months, which translates to seven years. I learned a lot about sales, honesty, integrity, and how to position value.