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Building a SaaS Company with Operational Discipline: Betterworks CEO Kris Duggan (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, May 16th 2016

If you haven’t already, please study our Bootstrapping Course and Investor Introductions page. 

Kleiner invested $15 million in Bettelworks on a concept. It’s an unusual financing that only experienced entrepreneurs can pull off. Read how Kris is building the company.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Kris Duggan: I was born in Australia. My parents are Australian. When I was five, we moved to Texas because my dad had an opportunity to relocate with the chemical company that he worked for. I grew up in Houston and actually went back to Australia for a year but then, ultimately, moved to California for most of high school and college. That was in Southern California. About 15 years ago, I moved up to Northern California.

Sramana Mitra: What did you do for college?

Kris Duggan: I was in Orange County. I was in the UC system. I got my MBA from Irvine.

Sramana Mitra: What year does that bring us up to?

Kris Duggan: I moved to Silicon Valley in 1999 after finishing my MBA program.

Sramana Mitra: When you came to Silicon Valley in 1999, what did you do?

Kris Duggan: I just wanted to work in technology. I relocated here and started working for a very small company. It was a B2B software company called Diligent Software. It was a procurement software company and I was employee 11. Over the next couple of years, they grew pretty fast. That was my first taste of working for a venture-backed startup.

Sramana Mitra: How long did that last?

Kris Duggan: What was interesting was this was at the height of the dot-com bust. The company got an offer to sell to Commerce One. The CEO called me that the offer was an insult. The company is worth far more than this. I actually decided to leave about a month later because I thought that he was disconnected from reality.

Sramana Mitra: What kind of work did you do there? Was it in technology, engineering, or sales?

Kris Duggan: My job was a sales role.

Sramana Mitra: When did you leave? What year?

Kris Duggan: This was probably 2001.

Sramana Mitra: Where did you go from there?

Kris Duggan: Let me just bring up my LinkedIn here so I can remember everything. That was a long time ago. After that, I worked with a variety of startups. I worked with a couple of different startups. By 2003, I decided that I wanted to work for a larger sales environment. I went to work for WebEx. I joined as a sales rep and ended up being the number one rep in the company. This was when they were growing pretty fast.

I was there for about three and a half years. They grew from 300 people to about 2,000 people. I became a manager and was the number one manager. Then I became a Director of Enterprise Business. I was branded the number one team in the company. I had a great run there. They invested a lot in the development and training of their leaders. That’s where I actually learned a lot about goal setting and the process of goal setting. They have a very strong discipline there. That was the first time that I worked in a real company.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Building a SaaS Company with Operational Discipline: Betterworks CEO Kris Duggan
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