Startup of the Day – Gist

The company of the day is Gist, based in the USA. Gist helps users build stronger relationships by connecting the inbox to the web. You will find below an interview with T. A. McCann, founder of Gist, Inc. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!


Interview with T. A. McCann, founder of Gist, Inc.

Who are you?

T.A. is an articulate leader who challenges those around him to look beyond the status quo to find better ways to deliver new technologies, support customers, and operate high performance businesses. His background includes being part of a winning America’s Cup sailing team to leading product strategy for Microsoft’s Exchange Server Group to various entrepreneurial ventures.

He has built a career around technology innovation and building high performance teams around them. His past experience includes entrepreneur-in-residence roles at both Vulcan Capital & Polaris Venture Partners. Prior to Polaris, he held senior positions at Microsoft, leading future strategy and product planning for the Exchange Server Group and developing the burgeoning Service Delivery Platforms group focused on mobile applications development. In addition, he is a founder of Jump2Go - providing innovative solutions for the radio industry, HelpShare - a web Q&A company and Soft Labour, a web design and development consultancy. He currently serves on the board of Art with Heart and is an advisor to Wishpot, Asset Archives and Notary One. In addition to his deep technology background, T.A. has won sailing’s America’s Cup and sailed around the world.

He recently founded Gist to leverage the network that already exists in the email inbox by connecting it with the vast amount of information available on the Internet to automatically deliver information about contacts and their companies.

How do you feel being the most promising ‘company of the day’ per Microsoft?

Gist is focused on adding value to where people already spend their days and that is often in Microsoft products, Outlook specifically. We are focused on being strategically aligned with Microsoft’s product roadmaps for Outlook, Exchange, and even business applications like Dynamics CRM. This recognition would reinforce the value of what we are doing inside Microsoft and to the broader market.

What did you do before creating your company?

Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Vulcan Capital.

How did you get the idea? What s the genesis?

The idea for Gist traces its roots back to when T.A. was leading planning efforts for Microsoft's Exchange Server Group. Gist became a reality while he was working as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence inside Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Vulcan Capital where what would become Gist was incubated, prototyped, and ultimately launched in limited release as an on-line service in September 2008. Gist resides where personal communications (like email), web-based content, and social networks converge providing users an innovative approach for personal/professional relationship management.

A year after that launch, Gist has received widespread recognition including coverage by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and has a large user community spread all over the world that includes everything from small business owners to Fortune 500 employees from companies like GE, Dell, HP, Disney, Deloitte, and Goldman Sachs to name a few. This set of users is helping Gist and T.A. refine the product and collaborate to bring a truly innovative approach to how we leverage new technologies to build stronger business relationships.

What do you sell? What is your company’s mission?

Gist is an on-line service that leverages the contacts and content that reside in email, in social networks, and inside business applications (like CRM systems) to give users new insights on those contacts and their companies.

What is your market?

Business professionals. Anyone who lives and dies by their relationships and needs to collect disseminate large amounts of information about them – salespeople, analysts, executives, etc.

Funding history? VCs? BA?

Incubated and seed funded by Vulcan Capital. $6.75M Series A round led by Foundry Group closed May 2009.

How many employees do you have? How many developers?

Less than 20 employees with the majority being developers.

Are you hiring? If yes, what? Where?

Yes, we are looking for super smart and passionate software development engineers to join the team here in Seattle.

Which platform are you building on? Why?

Custom developed front and back end using latest web-based technologies; Visual studio , C# as well as open source components.

Who’s your role model?

I have two – Steve Jobs and Paul Hawken.

Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet areas?

Communications and collaboration especially for the end-user and how their behaviors, needs, and wants are being shaped by consumer-oriented experiences, social networks, and new waves of technology innovation (short messaging, content sharing, etc.).

Looking for funding? If yes, how much?

Not currently seeking funding but interested in discussions with investors for future rounds.

What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think? Are you going to join? Why?

Bizspark is a great program and we are already taking advantage of being a member with software, support, and great opportunities like this (Startup of the Day).

Any advice to young Software entrepreneurs?

Great ideas are important but execution determines the winners. Measures and metrics to track performance, achievements, and milestones in what will be a sometimes chaotic journey.

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