GenXYZ: Bart Lorang, 34
CEO and co-founder, FullContact Inc.
In 2010, Lorang co-founded FullContact, a 2011 Techstars company.
What was the inspiration for FullContact?
My address book was something I struggled with my entire career, and I knew a lot of people and businesses struggled, as well. That experience crystalized years back in grad school. The woman who is now my wife had this perfect address book with titles, addresses, contact info, pictures. It was immaculate, but she had 180 contacts. I said, ‘I want that, but I have 5,000 contacts …’ So basically, I founded the company out of laziness.
So no more outdated numbers and incorrect addresses?
Exactly. We bring all your contacts into one place and sync all your different services together. Then we can grab additional information … and add that.
And the idea caught on quickly?
We now have 35 employees and we’ve raised $9 million in venture capital.
What kind of background does it take to run a company that says on its website: “We’re solving the world’s contact information problem”?
I’ve been in the software business for 25 years. My background is heavily engineering; I have a computer science background and an MBA.
What do you look for when you’re hiring?
Generally, most of our employees come from word-of-mouth. And the question I ask is, ’Would you bet your entire career on this person’s performance?’ Not just your job, but your career. There’s probably only a handful of people you feel that way about.
Once they pass that test, what else are you looking for?
Intelligence, for sure, but at a startup, you have to hire for culture over competence. We’ve all worked with brilliant jerks and that’s just toxic.
What advice do you give business leaders?
If you hit a wall, bounce off of it. Most businesses fail because they give up too early.