Bootstrapping with Services is a tried and true strategy, including for building Unicorns. In our 2012 story, Alteryx CEO Dean Stoecker talks about raising a Series A with $10 million in the bank. Today, Alteryx is a $10+ billion market cap public company. Dean bootstrapped with services early on, and then raised VC money.
Dean A. Stoecker is chairman, CEO and founding partner of
Alteryx, a leading software developer and a pioneer of agile business
intelligence technology with analytics. Prior to Alteryx, Dean led business
development efforts for Integration Technologies, a systems integrator, where
he helped develop technology that automated the selection of cellular tower
locations for telecommunications clients like AT&T. He also helped develop
the first geo-coding engine tied to Experian’s real estate mainframe system,
and he built a sophisticated flood certificate engine for a leading insurer.
Dean also served as Vice President of sales at Strategic Mapping, and in
various sales and strategic roles at Donnelly Marketing Information Services.
Dean, let’s start at the beginning of your personal story. What is the context
for your entrepreneurial journey? Where are you from?
Dean Stoecker: I
grew up in a family business in Colorado. I would sit around the table every
day and hear about the trials and excitements of owning a business. I went to
school at the University of Colorado. I had the opportunity to travel the world
through a program called Semester at Sea. That was where I got the idea that I
wanted to have my own business. After I graduated, I moved to California and
got involved in the information business.
I used to sell data printed on decks of cards. That was
frustrating because I knew the value of content when it became ubiquitous. I quickly
got into the software business because I knew it would democratize content and
make it more readily accessible. Over the years, I upped the ante and kept
trying to provide more sophisticated software at the places where I worked.
After a couple of fruitless years trying to effect change, I struck out on my
My two business partners and co-founders also came from
family-owned businesses. They were well aware of the blood, sweat, and tears
that go into entrepreneurship. One of them was a woman whom I had worked with
for several years. We complemented each other’s skills, and we knew that we
would work well together. Our CTO Ned Harding was someone we found by fate. He
had just left the company that I was contemplating joining. We saw eye to eye.
When you build partnerships, you take a great deal of care
and time making sure you are on the same page in terms of growing a business
and the ethics involved in getting there. We spent months getting to know each
other to make sure we had the right team. We formed our LLC in 1997 and made
money every single year.
When you registered your LLC in 1997, what was the company vision?
The original business plan was not a far shift from where we are today.
Everything was an application service provider model, and now it is called a
SaaS model. We set out to build tools that would allow customers to engage in
strategic applications and conduct tactical execution against those strategies.
There are so many pieces and parts to it. The fear of starting a business had
set in place. We had overhead costs, so we started out as system integrators.
We sold our services because we knew that it would help guide our efforts in
terms of developing our products.