Ike has bootstrapped Ephesoft and turned a relatively small $3.2 million investment into $12 million in 2016 revenue. Excellent execution.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Ike Kavas: I was born and raised in Turkey. I’m from a very small village. My dad was a math teacher at the same school that I went to. Right after high school, I left to study Electronics Engineering. After graduating, I worked for a few companies and I got introduced to a technology called Document Capture. After a few years of advancing my career, I realized that Turkey is too small for me.
On my 25th birthday and with $100 in my pocket, I came to the United States. I worked in companies that I was familiar with but this time, I was on the manufacturer side. I landed in a company called KOFAX, which I was familiar with. I worked as a professional services consultant and worked harder than anybody else in the company. That landed me several promotions.
After eight and a half years, I became the Professional Services Manager. I realized that the vendors in my space are not innovating anymore. The technologies are old. I thought I could do better. I left my post and started a company called Ephesoft.
Sramana Mitra: Tell me a bit about the genesis in terms of the idea and what problems you were going to solve at Ephesoft.
Ike Kavas: Ephesoft was going to help companies handle their documents. The technologies out there were very expensive that only the Fortune 1000 can afford. I wanted to build a new product that can allow Fortune 50000 companies to be able to utilize automation of products.
For example, a mortgage company might be receiving hundreds of documents and have employees to sort them out. The dosuments could also be bank opening accounts. You have to employ people and there’s always errors and the system is always slow. Ephesoft created a technology where we can automate these processes so that companies can grow and give their customers better service.
Sramana Mitra: Was there any company in the competitive landscape that catered to the mid-market? It sounds like there were options for Fortune 500 but not really for the mid-market.
Ike Kavas: Correct. You have KOFAX and Captiva. IBM had their own tool. As you said, the way you do intelligent capture was very expensive before Ephesoft.
Sramana Mitra: How did you get this company off the ground?
Ike Kavas: My day job was as a consultant but during weekends and at nights, I had another business that I created on the side, which was completely unrelated in trying to make a difference. I exited that side business and it allowed me to start Ephesoft. I went to friends and family and told them about my ideas and goals. They put their trust in me. I started in 2010. I also used a development team in India because I couldn’t afford anything else. We started in April. I had a demo system by July.
Sramana Mitra: What year are we talking?
Ike Kavas: 2010.