Carl has bootstrapped eMazzanti using services to close to $10M, maintaining a 20% y-o-y growth rate.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were your born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Carl Mazzanti: I was born in Pennsylvania. I come from a military family. A joke that I used as a kid was, “My parents moved around a lot, but I always found them.” Because of that, me and my brother are more outgoing than the rest.
I grew up in New Jersey. I went to school in France, Hong Kong, and Georgetown University. After school, I moved back to New Jersey to be around my family and take a leadership development program with Lucent Technologies. From there, they put me through classes at Wharton and NYU to increase my business acumen.
I started working before the dot-com boom and saw some amazing times in the technology field. My business partner Jennifer convinced me that we could offer services that people needed in a different way. We started our business two weeks before September 11. That day, we were actually in the World Trade Center towers to visit a customer when the first plane hit. Literally, some of our customers evaporated that day. Market timing is not our strength.
We did ingrain in ourselves a resolve to be always seen as value to our customers. We went from being an ERP/CRM-focused company to a security-first mindset because, around 2001, the only thing people were interested in was fear and hope.
Sramana Mitra: In 2000 to 2001, that’s when you started this system integration company?
Carl Mazzanti: August 30, 2001 was our first day in business.
Sramana Mitra: When did you make the switch to go after security?
Carl Mazzanti: It was within a week. Customers neither have Internet access nor power. Everything was gone. It’s amazing that so many years later, we still service people who used to have office space inside of the Towers. There’s a camaraderie with those who survived.
Sramana Mitra: When you decided that you were going to go after security, was there any particular security technology that you wanted to build your practice around?
Carl Mazzanti: The first partner we chose was WatchGuard. That was to put a firewall at the end of every Internet connection. We went from a nothing partner to what they called an Expert Level partner. We did that in 30 days.
Sramana Mitra: How many customers did you have to sell to to get to that kind of status?
Carl Mazzanti: Every quarter for three years, we doubled the previous quarter’s revenue.
Sramana Mitra: Where did you start? In the first 30 days, how many companies did you sell to?
Carl Mazzanti: In the first 90 days, there was somewhere between 4 to 10 customers.