The Silicon Review
When Bart Lorang founded FullContact in 2010, he set out to solve a universal issue – to help business professionals master their contacts. No stranger to entrepreneurship, Bart achieved his first exit at age 16, then again at age 29 at Dimension Technology Solutions. The idea of starting FullContact was inspired by his wife’s immaculately-organized address book, coupled with his desire to have a complete picture of the individuals within his network.
What started as a three-person company has grown into a global organization with 250 employees spread across the United States, Europe and India. Today, FullContact is the most innovative contact management platform on the market. Its suite of services are designed to provide insight and discovery to professionals and companies wanting to become more awesome with people.
The path to FullContact’s success hasn’t come easy. Here Bart shares his thoughts on the journey and future of the company.
Why was the company set up? How did you select the contact management vertical?
“The issue of contact management and not having a complete picture of individuals within my network was a problem I had struggled with for a long time. It became obvious to me that I wasn’t the only one with this problem. The desire to know more about contacts or customers seemed to be a universal concern that every business owner had, and a problem I was passionate about solving.”
Your wife was part of the inspiration for FullContact as well, correct?
“Yes, one day I caught a peek at her Outlook contact list and was amazed. She had every profile filled out with phone numbers, addresses, photos, spouses’ names, birthday and anniversary dates – everything! It made me realize the poor state of my contacts – different formats, different CRMs, different spreadsheets – and I realized how deep this problem ran.”
What were some of the challenges you faced in the initial years?
“When we started the fundraising rounds for FullContact, people called what we had ‘a feature’ – not even a product, much less a business. Now it’s the other way around and we’ve proven that even the smallest pain points that people call a feature can become a business if the pain point is universal enough. Sometimes you simply must tune out VCs and investors, trust your gut and follow your instincts.”
Tell us about your first product that was launched? Was it a success?
“The first product we launched was called Rainmaker. It was a service that connected to your Google Contacts and various social accounts. You would buy ‘raindrops’ to ‘make it rain’ on a contact. With a simple click, we would merge together your Google Contacts with social data and automatically follow and connect with contacts on your social networks.
It turned out to be a lot more successful than we imagined. We were featured in LifeHacker within the first two weeks, which got the ball rolling. This resulted in our server capabilities being flooded due to the influx of new users. Being a company of just three people at the time, we stayed up for three days and three nights straight to handle the load.”
How has customer feedback helped shape FullContact?
“Being a Techstars company, we were taught to view all feedback as data. We take every piece of feedback – positive or negative – very seriously. Early on we learned that whatever we did, we could not screw up people’s contacts. This has led to a very customer-oriented culture, and we try to be awesome with our customers in every interaction.”
How have you expanded FullContact’s offerings over the years?
“The foundation of our business is our API platforms, and we’ve built out our stack from there. In terms of capabilities, our API and our open identity and relationship graph are the core of our data asset. We now hold over 2.5 billion people profiles, and an identity and relationship graph of over 100 billion touch points which is updated a hundred million times a day.”
Where do you see FullContact a couple of years from now?
“We have experienced significant growth –100 percent YOY every year, in fact. In the coming years, we want to continue expanding globally and satisfy our existing customer base with a product that’s constantly improving. Our goal is to have every contact in the world under our management. My mission has always been to help the world stay fully connected, master its contacts, and be awesome with people, and every day we get closer to fulfilling this mission.”
Do you have any new products that are getting ready to be rolled out into the market?
“Yes, we have a beta version of our new FullContact Teams product, which allows team members to combine their contacts into a searchable address book. Colleagues can see who is known by whom, and make easy introductions while maintaining a ‘single source of truth’ for each contact. The initial reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.”
In addition to FullContact, Bart wears many hats in the global technology industry, including: investor, mentor, writer and speaker. He also serves on the board of Colorado Technology Association, Rapt Media, Education Funding Partners and Startup Colorado. In 2012, Bart was recognized as the Colorado Technology Association’s Technology Entrepreneur of the Year.
In 2013, Bart was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist and was named by ColoradoBiz as one of Colorado’s Top 25 Young Professionals.
Learn more about the Founder/ CEO: Bart Lorang
Born and raised in Bozeman, Montana, Bart is a proven entrepreneur, executive and manager in the global technology industry. He is active in the startup technology community as an investor, mentor, writer and speaker. He began his technology career by achieving his first exit at age 16 and his second exit in Dimension Technology Solutions, at age 29. His wife Sarah’s immaculately-organized address book served as his inspiration for starting his third company, FullContact, in 2010. Bart has since grown the company to over 80 employees with offices in Denver, Dallas and Riga, Latvia. Bart serves on the board of Colorado Technology Association, Rapt Media, Education Funding Partners and Startup Colorado. In 2012, Bart was recognized as the Colorado Technology Association’s Technology Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2013, Bart was an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist and was named by ColoradoBiz as one of Colorado’s Top 25 Young Professionals.
He holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Colorado in Boulder and an Executive MBA from Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver, where he graduated with the highest of honors.