In 2010, SaaS investors were less rigorous than they are today about unit economics. Josh managed to raise a $15 million Series A and acquired a significant runway to figure out the metrics of his SMB-focused SaaS business. Read more about his journey.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go to the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Josh McCarter: I was born in Sacramento, California. I lived there till I was about 12. Then we moved down to San Diego. My mom’s family was an immigrant family from Greece and has a bunch of entrepreneurs. My grandfather and uncle on that side were very successful car dealers in California.
My grandfather was in foreign service mostly. Both my parents were professors. It was an interesting mix of backgrounds. We lived in Northern California in the early part of my life and then moved down to San Diego. When we moved down to San Diego, I got my first job at the age of 12, detailing cars at a Volkswagen dealership. I was the only one there that didn’t speak Spanish so I started learning Spanish when I was 12. It was something that led to a lot of good experiences for me in my life.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do in college? What track did you take?
Josh McCarter: I went to UCLA. I majored in Political Science, but a lot of my focus was on International Business. I thought that I either wanted to go into some type of foreign service like my grandfather, but I was also intrigued by international business. I took my senior year off. I finished school in three years. I backpacked through Central America and Mexico. I started thinking about how to plug into some of the new trade that was going to be happening among the NAFTA countries. I ended up pitching a company that was an import company that sold a lot of home improvement products. That’s what I ended up doing.
Sramana Mitra: You moved to Latin America?
Josh McCarter: I lived in Los Angeles but for almost two years, three weeks a month I was probably in Latin America.
Sramana Mitra: How long did this particular assignment continue?
Josh McCarter: It lasted for about two years. I graduated and came back around 1994. I was doing that between 1994 and 1996. During that time, the Internet started to appear. Amazon and eBay were coming online. I was close with the Founder of Autobytel and ended up being asked to come and join Autobytel in the early days of the Internet.
I was 22 at that time. I had never done email. The next thing I knew I was in a company that was transforming the automotive industry and rode that for quite some time. At that time, we were one of the companies that, anytime they talked about innovative business models on the Internet, it was us, eBay, and Amazon. I was there for six years. I had a variety of roles – business development and international development. We raised about $100 million to open up our international joint ventures and set up nine joint ventures to expand the Autobytel brand overseas.