Jeff is an English major who successfully bootstrapped a SaaS company with Services. The company eventually exited at a $130M valuation. Wonderful perspective from a non-technical founder on building a tech startup to success.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go to the very beginning and introduce yourself and Velocify to our audience.
Jeff Solomon: I am an entrepreneur. I’ve been in the SaaS space for most of my career. I did not formally train in technology. I struggled in high school. I did end up in a four-year institution, but it was by default. I applied to 12 and got into one. That turned out to be a great experience. I majored in English.
Sramana Mitra: Very interesting. A lot of the work that we have done is because I am a writer. A lot of the work that we do today at scale started with the blog. I recently published a post that you might be interested in, “How to Build and Monetize a Technology Entrepreneurship Blog”. I’m a passionate literate aficionado where we read really serious stuff. Where are you located?
Jeff Solomon: I’m in LA. I was born on the East Coast, but I’ve been in LA since the early 80’s.
Sramana Mitra: When did you come out of college?
Jeff Solomon: 1996.
Sramana Mitra: So the internet boom was in full swing.
Jeff Solomon: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: Give us a little bit of your background. Where did you develop your SaaS chops?
Jeff Solomon: I graduated with English. I really didn’t know anything about software. My dad was a more traditional businessman. He had some buddies and said, “Go meet this guy. He owns a manufacturing company.” I met this guy. He hired me. I went there and I started coming up with product ideas. They made a lot of plastic products. I learned how to come up with an idea and bring it to market in the physical world. I enjoyed that.
What I didn’t like was how long it took. It was just very complex to go from an idea into customer’s hands. I was also spending more time with tech. I started to play around in the software space. I met some friends and some people who were in software. I realized that I could come up with ideas and they could come to life in hours. That’s how I started to find passion there. I left that company after a couple of years. I joined a startup. I got some good experience on the challenge associated with building a company.
Sramana Mitra: In what capacity did you join?
Jeff Solomon: Business development. I worked closely with the CEO. They had a small exit, so I made some cash. Of course, I got a very large ego from it. I decided it was time to start my own company.