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Bootstrapping from the UK to Over $10 Million: Roger Hale, Co-Founder of Linguamatics (Part 5)

Posted on Friday, Aug 11th 2017

Sramana Mitra: What is the geographical spread of your business? How have you gone about approaching the geographical expansion?

Roger Hale: It is predominantly US. Something like 70% of our sales is in the US.

Sramana Mitra: When did you start selling in the US?

Roger Hale: Right away. Astra Zeneca was US.

Sramana Mitra: Interesting. That Cambridge seminar that you were invited to present at included international customers.

Roger Hale: It did. Having worked for SRI, we are also used to dealing with US companies anyway. We’ve always been outward-facing. The rest of our customers are European and very few in the UK.

Sramana Mitra: Where did you finish your 2016 revenue number?

Roger Hale: I need to be circumspect with that revenue number. Our growth rate has continued to be fairly consistent over the years.

Sramana Mitra: At what rate?

Roger Hale: I think our compound growth rates since the early dates is something like 40%. We hit $10 million in 2013 in sales for the first time.

Sramana Mitra: You have organically built this business. Do you even contemplate raising money? Is this something that is of interest? You must be now getting a lot people who want to invest?

Roger Hale: We are certainly not averse to taking funding. It’s just that we haven’t needed it so far. We obviously maintain contact with investment communities generally. We regularly get inbound contacts. We may need to take external funding at some point. Obviously, there’s no point in taking money for the sake of it. Our philosophy has always been to build the company for the long term. Get that right and we automatically attract investors.

The reasons we might take investments are the usual ones. If there’s a tipping point in the market where we need to scale or change quickly. If we need to make acquisitions, that might be another one. The other reason we might take investment is founder liquidity of course. As the company grows, the founders have an increasing stake. There is a tendency to become slightly risk-averse as a result of that because decisions you make profoundly affect your personal wealth. That’s a fairly common phenomenon.

Sramana Mitra: How is the company organized today? Are most of your people still in England? What’s the structure?

Roger Hale: That’s pretty much right. The research and development is still in Cambridge. The UK generally is a friendly environment for doing development. We have some sales and marketing presence in Cambridge, but we also have a physical presence in Massachusetts and we have field offices in other places in the US. The US operations is mostly business development. We have sales folks and post-sales support folks.

Sramana Mitra: Great. We love good bootstrapping stories. Thank you for your time.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Bootstrapping from the UK to Over $10 Million: Roger Hale, Co-Founder of Linguamatics
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