Interview: Isaac Garcia of Central Desktop

Article first published as Isaac Garcia - Taking Down Microsoft on Technorati. Messenger: Isaac Garcia, Co-Founder and CEO of Central Desktop, former Co-Founder of Upgradebase....

Article first published as Isaac Garcia - Taking Down Microsoft on Technorati.

Central Desktop Logo

Messenger: Isaac Garcia, Co-Founder and CEO of Central Desktop, former Co-Founder of Upgradebase.

Central Desktop was founded in 2005 to provide an easy-to-use, SaaS collaboration solution to the SMB market. The company initially focused on self-serve users who purchased the solution online, competing with the likes of Basecamp and GoPlan. However, over the past several years, Central Desktop's collaboration software has increased in functionality such that it is now a credible competitor to Microsoft's SharePoint.

In the interview below, Co-Founder and CEO of Central Desktop, former Co-Founder of Upgradebase, discusses this transition and what it feels like to be in Microsoft's crosshairs.

Isaac Garcia Quote

You can watch the video below or watch it on YouTube by clicking here:

What follows is a summary which paraphrases the interviewee's responses. For exact quotes, watch the video.

Value Prop Twitter Style:  Central Desktop is: "a cloud-based social collaboration platform for businesses."

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6) Isaac, why does the world need Central Desktop?

"Collaboration is really hard. From day one of the Internet, we were promised the dream to connect with people all over the world…and it would revolutionize everything. Fast forward twenty years, it's still difficult.

Teams within large, small, medium sized companies need collaboration tools that are easy to use, fast to setup and accessible from anywhere and everywhere."

5) Central Desktop recently transitioned from a startup to a growth oriented company that is clearly here to stay. What did you find most difficult about this transition and what do you wish you had handled differently

"Two things stand out. One, I wish someone had told me it will take longer than you think. Also, we should have segmented our customers sooner and narrowed our market segment (earlier)."

4) Central Desktop is in a crowded, confusing market, yet you have successfully stayed above the fray – you seem to be in every analysts' super-duper special quadrant. What have you done to so successfully differentiate Central Desktop?

"The first three years, we spent all of our time on the phone with our customers, even when we were a two-person company. Other companies in our space made it difficult to reach them on the phone.

Analysts are very similar to investors in that they need to be nurtured – you need to have an ongoing dialog with them – it's about staying on their radar. You can stay in touch with them on a weekly, monthly or a quarterly basis with a simple, analyst-based newsletter that goes just to them so they feel exclusive - like they are part of your inner circle."

3) Most great companies have inspiring Origin Stories. I am curious to hear how you and your Co-Founder Arnulf Hsu came up with the idea for Central Desktop.

"We were at CNet and I did a very large deal with Microsoft. I would fly up to Redmond twice a week and we would all sit around a really large conference table – it was the largest (advertising) project Microsoft had ever done, a $100M advertising campaign.

At the end of every meeting… we were sharing a USB stick that we passed around the conference table. At one point I asked, 'Why aren't we using Sharepoint?' They patted me on the head, smiled and said, 'Oh Isaac, we don't have the resources to do that.'

That's when it sunk in that there was a really big problem here. If Microsoft, who built collaboration software, couldn't do it, then how could a small to medium size company do it? So we set out to create something that was, in some ways, anti-Microsoft. How do you make something as useful as SharePoint available to the masses?"

2) The term "online collaboration" is like a Jackson Pollack painting. It means something slightly different to each beholder. Do you think the meaning of this term will coalesce in the next five years, and, if so, what will it mean to most people?

"Today, web-collaboration means everything from web-meetings, to video conferencing, to Skype, etc. Collaboration has become almost synonymous with the word 'work'. We are seeing more and more focus on what kind of work. We are using the word 'collaboration' less and less.

It's a maturing thing in the industry. The definition will continue to change, which is why we see opportunity."

1) You recently released SocialBridge, a collaboration solution geared to marketing agencies. Can you tell us about the strategy behind going after this particular segment? Also, do you have general advice for entrepreneurs who are trying to decide if they should stay broad or attack specific verticals?

"We look at our existing customers, close to 3,000 companies using our products, and looked for clusters within that user base – common industries and common uses. We also looked outside, what are the markets that are big and broad and fragmented.

Marketing agencies, creative agencies, we already had a lot of those customers using our product, but they weren't using us to the full extent they want. They wanted more extensive functionality that we were able to drill into… and then ended up building SocialBridge.

As far as looking at the market, there is no large, established huge leader who owns the marketing creative, project management space. We saw high fragmentation which is an opportunity to create our own wedge and build it out from there.

The third thing we looked at was which industry is going to be highly viral. The marketing, creative agencies are naturally inviting folks in and there's a lot of insider-speak between the industry that make it a very viral market."

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John Greathouse is a Partner at Rincon Venture Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage, web-based businesses. Previously, John co-founded RevUpNet, a performance-based online marketing agency sold to Coull. During the prior twenty years, he held senior executive positions with several successful startups, spearheading transactions that generated more than $350 million of shareholder value, including an IPO and a multi-hundred-million-dollar acquisition.

John is a CPA and holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School. He is a member of the University of California at Santa Barbara's Faculty where he teaches several entrepreneurial courses.


Note: All of my advice in this blog is that of a layman. I am not a lawyer and I never played one on TV. You should always assess the veracity of any third-party advice that might have far-reaching implications (be it legal, accounting, personnel, tax or otherwise) with your trusted professional of choice.





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