“I had wasted hundreds of hours of my life downloading sales data and crunching numbers, a process that caused me much pain, and I knew there had to be a better way,” says Matt Ostanik, CEO at FunnelWise, and guest interviewee at the January 2015 edition of Start-Up Stories, a presentation of the Business Innovation Zone. FunnelWise, offering to provide a unified view of a company’s revenue funnel, bridging the gap between marketing and sales is only the latest business venture in this highly successful architect turned entrepreneur’s resume from which he hopes to share insights while under questioning from Mike Colwell, Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives for the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
When FunnelWise launches in early 2015, it will be more than a decade since Ostanik launched his career as a businessman. Working as an architect while continuing his education in pursuit of an MBA with the intent of someday achieving partner status in an architectural firm, Ostanik became increasingly frustrated by the enormous amount of paper that had to be pushed back and forth between architect and builder in the design and construction process.
“I came up with an idea to manage those documents on a web based system,” he recalls of the genesis of what would become Submittal Exchange, a hugely successful construction communication software company that would be ultimately acquired by Textura Corporation after posting annual year over year revenue growth of 350 percent for 5 years. Yet the beginnings were most humble.
“I had never written a business plan although I had studied them in my coursework,” he recalls. Hearing of the student version of the Pappajohn Business Plan Competition, he hastily drafted and submitted a plan, becoming one of the winners of the 2004 competition and thereby earning the seed money to begin development of Submittal Exchange.
While an oversimplification to declare that the rest is history, the reality is that Ostanik created a massively successful venture garnering the CSI Construction Technology Award, the Technology Association of Iowa’s Software Company of the Year and recognition as an Inc. Magazine Top Small Company Workplace as well at the interest of Textura which would acquire Submittal Exchange.
Working for Textura as an executive for several years after the acquisition exposed Ostanik to a whole new level of business including a front row seat during Textura’s IPO. “It was a tremendous experience,” he would say of his time as President of several divisions of Textura, “but by 2013 I was ready to move on and start something new.”
For Ostanik that was two ventures, Charrette Venture Group, a small endeavor encouraging the development of other Architectural entrepreneurs through a business plan completion and an accelerator as well as FunnelWise which consumes most of Ostanik’s time and energy.
This path from MBA student to entrepreneur to divisional president of a publicly traded corporation and back to entrepreneur again well prepares Ostanik to share insights and field questions from the anticipated January audience. Citing building a team and a culture as well as sharing mistakes, Ostanik is particularly interested in discussing validation of an idea.
“Perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned as an entrepreneur is to validate your idea against the market,” shares Ostanik while admitting to a stroke of luck with Submittal Exchange, building a program that he wanted for himself without confirming a market existed of sufficient size to justify the investment. “I was lucky that a lot of other architects and contractors wanted the same thing,” he remembers.
Likewise in that venture he made some mistakes, adding features without researching the market. Some were successful, but some were unwanted.
No such luck or mistake has accompanied the development of FunnelWise. Fresh from a reading of Eric Ries’ The Lean Start-up Ostanik set about to interview no less than 100 prospective clients before beginning development. Having achieved this goal the interviews continued even as developers coded with the total number of interviews now exceeding 200, and with a substantial number of those stepping forward and placing orders for a product still in development.
“We basically have a pool of customers just lined up waiting for us to launch our product,” he says of the value in validation. If nothing else, this serial entrepreneur wants the January attendees to know; it seems that if you build what they tell you they want, they actually will come.
$15 admission fee (includes lunch) or free (if you don’t want lunch).
11: 30 a.m.
January 21st 2015
Ruan II, 601 Locust
Conference Room 101
Purchase your tickets/make reservations -http://www.desmoinesmetro.com/en/calendar/january_startup_stories_event/
Contact us at email@example.com for more information. Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact the BIZ for details.
The BIZ’s mission is to connect entrepreneurial needs with qualified community and state resources and to provide guided professional and business direction. The BIZ helps entrepreneurs maximize their successes by helping them navigate resources, strengthen knowledge, improve skills, form strategic alliances and secure proper capitalization.