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Bootstrapping to $10 Million from Canada: Jory Lamb, CEO of VistaVu (Part 7)

Posted on Tuesday, Dec 9th 2014

Jory Lamb: In the middle of 2007, I moved to Denver to get things off the ground in the US market. In the early years in Houston, the company was a bit of a revolving door. It was really hard to retain the staff. Again, I made another error, for which I’m smarter today. I kept hiring staff, sticking them in the office and trying to manage from a distance. We had our clients and staff but every six months, we were changing at least one or two people. I couldn’t get them to stick.

The recession in 2009 was hard. But we got really close to our existing clients. We did all sorts of project work for them. We made sure that we didn’t take on any new expenditure. Especially having faced bankruptcy once, my management is probably more conservative. In 2010, I made one of the most significant hires I’ve made in my career. We hired Roy Garcia who’s the VP – Sales out of Oildex to head up sales for our company. He oversaw sales for Canada and US. When we put senior management into the Houston office, all of a sudden, the cloud opened up and the sun shone through. He brought with him several staff from Oildex who were oil and gas people. When he looked around the office, he said, “There’s nobody here from oil and gas. All the oil and gas people are in Calgary.” So he brought oil and gas people with him and built a culture in Houston that mimicked the culture in Canada.

He and I have gone on famously ever since that day. It was a huge win for us. Then the trajectory of US accelerated even more. In 2010, he hired a couple of sales people – some in the US and one in Canada. 2011 was a better year than 2010 and 2012 was better than 2011. We added some new products because there was an opportunity to complement our existing products. We added a whole area around analytics to our portfolio. We have clients now who have six or seven years worth of data locked in their ERP system.

Sramana Mitra: One question that comes to my mind at this juncture is you have not raised any external financing. All this is, until 2014, self-financed with organic growth.

Jory Lamb: Everything is bootstrapped—very non-Silicon Valley.

Sramana Mitra: What about competition? Whom do you compete with in the market?

Jory Lamb: All the usual suspects like Microsoft and Oracle. Most recently, we started to see some of the SaaS-based offerings. We’re seeing NetSuite out there in the marketplace. They’re more prevalent than they’ve been in the past. They’ve moved to subscription. We’ve moved to subscription and a hosted model. We have started writing our application for in-memory computing. You’d be familiar with the HANA database?

Sramana Mitra: Yes.

Jory Lamb: We’ve started writing our applications for HANA. We’ve written analytics tools and we’ve started writing for large enterprise. All of those combined are expanding our growth, deal size, and offerings to this specific market, which is energy services. We’ve had a very successful relationship with SAP through the years. They’ve been very supportive on a marketing and sales effort side. I sit currently on the Global Partner Executive Council for SAP Business One. We’re one of two companies in North America that sits on this council. There’s about 12 of us around the world. We were on Inc. 5000 and Canada’s Profit 500. It’s been fun and very exciting.

The ground is shifting and what we see today is a market that is largely dominated by mom and pop type organizations. We think there’s a tremendous opportunity to roll up those organizations into something that is significant for this marketplace. My role, over the years, has transitioned from keeping the lights on to a more strategic role. I’m in the process of raising some capital so we can go out and exercise an acquisition strategy.

Through organic growth and acquisition, we believe by 2020 we can be about 10x of what we are right now. My whole focus is on executing on this strategy. I started my EMBA program this year at Wharton. It’s fun. Some people ask me, “If you could do it all over again, would you do it different?” As I reflect back on my meandering path to where we are today, I think this is how it had to occur for me. I am thankful for all those lessons learned and all those great ‘Aha’ moments. Those have made me into a very clear focused business leader.

Sramana Mitra: You’re at a place where you have a $10 million a year business. You have a lot of opportunities ahead of you. I think that’s the most important piece of the story. How you get there doesn’t matter. You can only look forward. You cannot look backwards and regret. The path you traveled, you traveled and made it work. You are where you are which is a perfectly fine place to be. You have a very interesting future ahead. Good luck with the next leg of your journey. It was a pleasure talking to you.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Bootstrapping to $10 Million from Canada: Jory Lamb, CEO of VistaVu
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