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Bootstrapping for 30 Years: Dean Guida, CEO of Infragistics ( Part 7)

Posted on Thursday, Jul 15th 2021

Sramana Mitra: What was the next product shift?

Dean Guida: We started investing more in marketing, PR, and sales. We rode a whole bunch of technology waves. We went from the C and C++ market and started competing in the Visual Basic market. We then started shifting to selling Visual Basic developers. That just opened a lot to us. It wasn’t extra R&D work for us. It was a faster language and a faster-growing and popular developer. That helped us as well. 

Sramana Mitra: What time frame is that?

Dean Guida: This is the mid-90s, 1995.

Sramana Mitra: Give me highlights of the product shift next. In 1995, you were in a very different generation of products. Cloud computing happened in the mid-2000. What does that do to your business? What are the movements doing to your business?

Dean Guida: We started investing in abilities to help developers build Android apps and iOS apps. We invested in the Microsoft Windows phone operating system. Coming up to today, our whole mantra is simple and beautiful. It is hard to create simplicity and beauty. It is a core focus for Infragistics.

We want to build simple and beautiful tools and help our customers build amazing user experiences. Our big shift was 15 to 20 years ago where we were a software engineering tools company and we made a big shift to UX/UI developer tools. We made a big bet on user experience and user-centered design. We made this shift 15 years ago before it was as popular as it is today.

We started hiring designers to work with our engineering team. That is why we built Indigo designs, which is a digital application platform. It integrates the developer and the design. We started building designer tools where you can use design systems, prototyping, and unmoderated usability tests.

We then generated angular code. We integrate with Sketch, Adobe XD, and Figma. We also changed our company culture and what products we brought to market in 2000. It was focused on user experience, user-centered design process, and tooling for that. That was a big shift for us. 

Sramana Mitra: What kind of revenue level are you at now?

Dean Guida: We are still private, so we don’t share our revenues. We have 250 people in our company. We’re self-funded the entire time. We have offices in seven countries around the world. That is what we share publicly. 

Sramana Mitra: We will just report it as over $5 million in revenue, which I am sure, is under the real amount. Why did you stay bootstrapped all the way?

Dean Guida: We care about creating an amazing culture. We care about building great software. It is not just a project where you put people together and then you sell it and make good money. We care about craftsmanship and creating great software to give delight to the customer. We want to make a good business there. When you are taking money, you are on a path to exit. It’s just not our motive.

Our motive is to build incredible software, keep innovating, take care of the customer, and create a culture that the best developers and designers want to work at. Sometimes I think back and ask if I did a disservice to our team where we could have made things easier for us by taking all the money. I don’t think that I was a mistake. We are a healthy and strong company with this strong fabric of a culture that keeps letting us learn and bring new products to market.

What is next for us is that we are moving from a UX/UI developer tools company to a business tools company. We are just about to enter a public preview of Slingshot, which is a digital workplace. It connects everyone you work with including the data analytics, content, project, and chat to boost team performance. It is an amazing product.

It is the culmination of 33 years of experience in running a company while we built the products. When people talk about the collaboration, they talk about, “Oh, collaboration is video and screen sharing. Collaboration is chat and project management.”

From the beginning, our thesis has been about team performance. What do high-performance teams do? They keep everyone in the know. They get alignment on goals and strategy and autonomy to execute. They use data to make decisions. They also have a culture of accountability. We build that into Slingshot to drive team performance. We are excited about that. It has been a five-year investment on our part. Instead of getting to market early, we had a private preview for a long time. It is an amazing product. 

Sramana Mitra: Thank you for your time.

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

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