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Bootstrapping for 30 Years: Dean Guida, CEO of Infragistics ( Part 4)

Posted on Monday, Jul 12th 2021

Dean Guida: We got out there and we were in a room with 12 people. These were the guys who wrote the compiler, debugger, linker, and then there’s me and my girlfriend. I was like, “Oh my god. Don’t hold my hand. Don’t look at me. Don’t do anything.” Chris, a guy that was there, went on to create the C# language. I was a hardcore developer at the time.

My girlfriend was in the tech space but not as hardcore as us. It turns out that she solved more problems than I did. Everything went well. I created a better relationship with all the guys there. We did a deal with Borland. Borland put our product, a code generation visual design tool, into all their Borland C, Turbo C, Turbo Pascal, and all their boxes.

You could use our tool and we would generate Pascal, C, C++ code for Borland. They actually gave us money. We got money out of the deal. As you know, all these big guys never give you money. They are usually like, “Hey, you associate with us. That is payment in itself.” 

Sramana Mitra: You got money to do what?

Dean Guida: They gave us money to license and the ability to include our products which were a C, C++, and Pascal application builder and code generation product. They also gave us all of their names. They also put a flyer in every single one of their boxes to upsell to our Pro version.

At the time, everyone in the development tool space was selling $99 30-day money-back guarantee products. It was an amazing deal for us that Philippe Kahn, the CEO of Borland, tried to renegotiate that deal. He couldn’t believe that his VP of Developer Tools gave their customer names away. It was a signed contract, so he couldn’t do anything there. That put us on the map.

At the time, we had this flyer and everyone would fill an order form. They would then mail it to you. They would fill out their name, address, and credit card number. A few months later, we started selling 10,000 units a month. It was like Christmas. You would just open the mailbox and there would be all these orders. We hired neighborhood moms and dads to help us pack boxes. 

Sramana Mitra: So it was packaged software that you would have to mail to these people who ordered? 

Dean Guida: Yes. I am going back in history. It was diskettes. Randy Miller, one of the guys we hired back then, is still with the company. He has been in our company for 32 years. He is an incredible individual. He is an incredible purchaser and manager. Every person needs a Randy that looks after getting whatever you need to buy at the right price. That helped us out. If I fast-forward all the way to today, what we care about today is simplicity, beauty, and happiness, one app at a time. 

Sramana Mitra: When you had the Borland deal going, what year was that?

Dean Guida: We founded the company in July 1989. The time period that I am talking about probably is around 1992 to 1993. 

Sramana Mitra: The Internet has not happened yet?

Dean Guida: It didn’t happen yet. We later did deals and a lot of work with Java. We became friendly with the developer’s tools group at Microsoft. We built the first user interface components that went out to Visual Basic 1.0. We built the database binding layer and Internet Explorer. We did one of the first versions of Internet Explorer for Microsoft. We just had this great relationship with Microsoft. They were and still are great partners of ours. It was amazing how much they took care of you as a small company. They treated us like we were a billion-dollar company. 

This segment is a part in the series : Bootstrapping for 30 Years

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