Editor’s note: Executive Q&A is a regular feature on Mondays.The company image is of one of the most ponderous creatures to walk the earth, the brontosaurus, but Bronto Software is neither slow nor on a endangered species list, let alone extinct.
The company recently moved into new headquarters at the former American Tobacco building in Durham, has more than 200 customers in North America and Europe, posted revenue growth of 930 percent in 2003 and expects 300 percent revenue growth this year.
Bronto focuses on email applications technology that co-founders Joe Colopy and Chaz Felix started working on in 2000. The former Red Hat employees launched Bronto in May of 2002, one of its draws being a huge inflatable bronto as its mascot. The name ties back to Colopy’s childhood desire to be a paleontologist.
Now, he and Felix focus on the science of helping companies take better use of email — from managing lists to templates, newsletters and tracking. Bronto is adding two new full-time employees to its total of five plus three part-timers. Neither Colopy nor Felix will disclose specific revenues other than to say the company is profitable.
LTW recently caught up with the co-founders for a question-and-answer session.
Here’s the Q&A with responses from Colopy and Felix:
What are the key factors driving your growth?
We learned from the Dot Com (Bomb) Era and our experiences at Red Hat that basic business principles are critical in growing a start-up. Some include:
In addition, Bronto sees a fundamental shift by organizations from installed software to hosted web-based software run through software partners like Bronto. Salesforce.com’s recent IPO and rapid growth is proof that this is an emerging market.
Are you trying to emulate aspects of Red Hat atmosphere? If so, how? Is it succeeding?
We have certainly have tried to take positive aspects from Red Hat’s atmosphere and incorporate them into Bronto’s culture. One being to brand our technology around a tangible object that people can understand and enjoy – hence Bronto. We hope to have similiar success to Red Hat in creating a recognizable brand around our dinosaur.
Additionally, we have incorporated pre-IPO Red Hat’s open office environment, action oriented meeting style and funky edge.
What differentiates you from the competition and thus helps your growth as a company?
Unlike many providers who focus on the media or “email marketing” side of the business, Bronto is focused on the customer data or “email management” side of the business. By providing tools for segmenting email contact lists and tracking the effectiveness of mailings, Bronto enables its customers to efficiently manage their email communications and better understand their customers’ interests. All of this is lost, if it is not followed up with great customer service (very lacking in the software industry). We strive to exceed the expectations of our clients.
What is the size (dollars) of the market segment?
We don’t have up-to-date figures on the market size of business email communications. For Bronto, it would be framing the market for a combination of email marketing, CRM and hosted business solutions. Needless to say, these are each multi-billion dollar markets growing at a fast clip. Again, salesforce.com is a good point of reference for the market we are going after.
Are you profitable? if so, for how long?
Yes. Bronto has been profitable since 2002 by growing organically and focusing on creating a world class, efficient organization.
Why pick the American Tobacco building for your new headquarters?
Bronto chose to move to American Tobacco because we thought it was a nice blend between the old (101 year old building with brick and wood columns) and the new (innovative tenants and high tech amenities). Michael Goodmon, Mike Hill and the rest of the American Tobacco team have exciting plans for the complex including new restaurants, concerts and other activities. We really believe that American Tobacco coupled with the Durham Bulls Athletic Park will create a critical mass of real estate and entertainment options, translating into a new “neighborhood” for downtown Durham.
(You can check out the Bronto space at: bronto.com/company/bronto-photos.php?pid=1 )
How are you attracting overseas customers?
Bronto acquires its overseas customers through paid search programs using Google and Overture.
What technical advances and new products might we see from Bronto?
Bronto through its hosted software model is constantly releasing new features and enhancements. We just released a template builder feature that enables clients to build email newsletter and email survey templates within Bronto without HTML expertise. Our future development is targeted on enterprise offerings including event based triggers and a Bronto enterprise version
Is the dinosaur still around?
Big Bronto and the Travelin’ Brontos are alive and well. Big Bronto recently took part in our office camp out and the Travelin’ Brontos have been visiting global hot spots like Mt. Everest, the Great Wall of China and Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
(You can check them out at bronto.com/company/bronto-photos.php Brontos are available for far and away trips. Drop us a line!)