Hope, Heroes and Startups: ShareFile
Jesse Lipson’s File Sharing
Walking into the Raleigh, North Carolina headquarters of ShareFile, Jesse Lipson’s movable feast of a company, I sensed something special. I had a déjà vu feeling. “Something cool and great is going on here,” I thought. ShareFile, a software service that Jesse created to help companies exchange large files, is bootstrapped, owes a debt to Google Adwords, contains many valuable startup entrepreneur lessons and is a great place to work.
After a few minutes Jesse came around the corner. “Are you Martin?” he asked, prompting another déjà vu feeling. I met Robert Rauschenberg in 1992 and Jesse’s intensely quiet manner, bright inquisitive eyes and intense creative focus reminded me of a night one of my artistic heroes told me to call him “Bob”.
“We’ve built our business the old fashion way, selling products and services to people in exchange for money,” Jesse said with a smile, in reference to the recent fad of “freemium” internet services, as our interview started. ShareFile has 65 full time employees including outbound telemarketing focused on specific industries such as accounting. ShareFile looks for companies who need to securely and regularly share large files. They have grown to over 16,000 corporate customers.
“Take me back to the beginning,” I asked. “I didn’t know the business could get as big as it is now. I asked a couple of VC’s about ShareFile in 2005 and they weren’t excited. Now they are calling,” Jesse said with another small smile. Jesse is passionate about bootstrapping, using ShareFile’s revenue to fuel expansion. Jesse noted another common Hope, Heroes and Startups theme – new technology made his company possible. “I’ve often said if Google Adwords wasn’t around we wouldn’t be in business,” he said.Continued on the next page