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Bootstrapping to Inc. 500: Tallie CEO Chris Farrell (Part 5)

Posted on Saturday, Sep 27th 2014

Sramana Mitra: Is the content that you’re preparing and publishing still directed towards the accountants and CPA community who are coming to your site to engage with that content?

Chris Farrell: Absolutely. We view it as a two-for-one because they get familiar with us. It’s wonderful from a brand association perspective.

Sramana Mitra: You started in 2008 with $100,000 and then bootstrapped from there on. Tell me a little bit about ramp. How long did it take you to hit the half a million revenue mark? How long did it take you to make a million in revenue?

Chris Farrell: I think you’ll know this one well. The first few years are very lean. You get to a hundred dollars in a month and you’re pretty happy about that. It really took us about 24 months before we had reasonable amount of revenue coming in. Then in 2011 and 2012, we made it to Inc.’s Fastest Growing Company list. We were in the top 50 fastest growing software companies. After a few very slow years, we started to catch our stride and we saw tremendous growth.

However, we also saw a need to essentially pivot our technology. We saw tremendous opportunity because we really built around this notion of strong QuickBooks integration. Then after a couple of years of growth, we saw that it was going to be a commodity. It’s not a long-term defensible position. At the same time, we saw the rise of the mobile device and the rise of automation along with the rise of HTML5. We noted that we were going to have to learn to compete in a crowded field on a more differentiated basis. We essentially had to start over using modern technology and a brand new concept of what expense reporting was going to be.

We made that turn about three years ago. That did a couple of things. First of all, it slowed down our growth rate considerably because we were no longer investing in our core v.1 platform. It became a tremendous challenge for our engineering team – a challenge they welcomed. It put us on a path to build essentially a new future for the company, which made us stronger in the marketplace and a much more formidable competitor given the crowded nature of the space.

Sramana Mitra: Two years into the business, your business started generating reasonably fast-paced revenue. 2011 was the timeframe when you were growing really fast and made Inc.’s 500. What was the level at that point? Where are we in terms of trajectory?

Chris Farrell: We had two years of very low revenue. Then 24 to 36 months after, we ramped to about $4 million. That’s when we noted the market opportunity to really expand the long-term value.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Bootstrapping to Inc. 500: Tallie CEO Chris Farrell
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