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Successful Pivot to a High Growth Business: Ray Grainger, CEO of Mavenlink (Part 2)

Posted on Saturday, Apr 16th 2016

Sramana Mitra: You went to college in Southern California?

Ray Grainger: I did. I went to Harvey Mudd.

Sramana Mitra: What did you do after that?

Ray Grainger: Based on that realization in college that I would pursue a career of applying technology to business, I went to Accenture directly out of college and ended up being part of the Products group there involving building technology and consulting in the high-tech industry. I had an 18-year-career there and ended up being a Global Managing Partner of the high-tech industry at Accenture.

Sramana Mitra: You stayed there for a while.

Ray Grainger: I did. Accenture is a highly entrepreneurial organization. Every client and every project is kind of its own little business. I knew that going in when I was actually interviewing. What appealed to me is that I could be a partner someday in a company versus an employee. The idea of being a business owner was very important to me right out of college.

The way that the work was done was you had to think about what markets you were going to pursue, what clients would benefit from your offerings, and you had to pursue business. That really appealed to me. Even though it was part of a big organization, I could be an intrapreneur.

Sramana Mitra: You develop a lot of relationships. That’s a job that enables you to build a lot of high-level relationships.

Ray Grainger: Exactly. As we talk, maybe that network that I was able to build will come out.

Sramana Mitra: Were you based out of Southern California while you were working on Accenture?

Ray Grainger: Yes. I was based out of our Los Angeles office. Because it was high-tech, I served clients all over the globe. I spent time in Japan with Sony. There were companies where we really tried to save and get into the new world like Kodak. There were some difficult and perplexing problems.

Sramana Mitra: What years were your Accenture gig?

Ray Grainger: It was early 1988 until late 2005.

Sramana Mitra: In the meantime, Internet gets invented and all kinds of new things happen. The dot-com bubble and bust happened. This is the period where you were developing your network and career at Accenture. What happens next?

Ray Grainger: My transition into the next stage occurred during the one point that you mentioned – when the Internet was first forming. The concept of Mavenlink was born. 1992 was the time when we were all pursuing the information super highway. What are we going to do with this new Internet? I was looking at how services would be transformed.

The genesis of Mavenlink was formed way back then. It was in 2005 after knowing what the foundational elements would need to be in order to do Mavenlink. The Software-as-a-Service had become a viable model. NetSuite and Salesforce had proven that it could be a viable model. The social web had emerged. Mavenlink has a social dynamic to it. The social web had started to get traction. People would put themselves out on the web as individuals.

All of these things came together. I left Accenture to join a startup that I had invested in through our venture firm at Accenture. I wanted to be inside a software company versus just consulting. I wanted to be inside running one. I left Accenture and joined InQuira. Ultimately, we were acquired by Oracle.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Successful Pivot to a High Growth Business: Ray Grainger, CEO of Mavenlink
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