Dean A. Stoecker is chairman, CEO and founding partner of Alteryx, a leading software developer and a pioneer of agile business intelligence technology with analytics. Prior to Alteryx, Dean led business development efforts for Integration Technologies, a systems integrator, where he helped develop technology that automated the selection of cellular tower locations for telecommunications clients like AT&T. He also helped develop the first geo-coding engine tied to Experian’s real estate mainframe system, and he built a sophisticated flood certificate engine for a leading insurer. Dean also served as Vice President of sales at Strategic Mapping, and in various sales and strategic roles at Donnelly Marketing Information Services.
Sramana: Dean, let’s start at the beginning of your personal story. What is the context for your entrepreneurial journey? Where are you from?
Dean Stoecker: I grew up in a family business in Colorado. I would sit around the table every day and hear about the trials and excitements of owning a business. I went to school at the University of Colorado. I had the opportunity to travel the world through a program called Semester at Sea. That was where I got the idea that I wanted to have my own business. After I graduated, I moved to California and got involved in the information business.
I used to sell data printed on decks of cards. That was frustrating because I knew the value of content when it became ubiquitous. I quickly got into the software business because I knew it would democratize content and make it more readily accessible. Over the years, I upped the ante and kept trying to provide more sophisticated software at the places where I worked. After a couple of fruitless years trying to effect change, I struck out on my own.
My two business partners and co-founders also came from family-owned businesses. They were well aware of the blood, sweat, and tears that go into entrepreneurship. One of them was a woman whom I had worked with for several years. We complemented each other’s skills, and we knew that we would work well together. Our CTO Ned Harding was someone we found by fate. He had just left the company that I was contemplating joining. We saw eye to eye.
When you build partnerships, you take a great deal of care and time making sure you are on the same page in terms of growing a business and the ethics involved in getting there. We spent months getting to know each other to make sure we had the right team. We formed our LLC in 1997 and made money every single year.
Sramana: When you registered your LLC in 1997, what was the company vision?
Dean Stoecker: The original business plan was not a far shift from where we are today. Everything was an application service provider model, and now it is called a SaaS model. We set out to build tools that would allow customers to engage in strategic applications and conduct tactical execution against those strategies. There are so many pieces and parts to it. The fear of starting a business had set in place. We had overhead costs, so we started out as system integrators. We sold our services because we knew that it would help guide our efforts in terms of developing our products.