About

I start and grow companies and initiatives, and help both entrepreneurs and investors grow and improve their businesses. My first software startup was funded by the original Draper Fisher Jurvetsen (DFJ) and acquired by Cobalt (then bought by Sun soon after).

That was a wild ride, and much different from my first company, a local computer manufacturer and network services; we'd accept almost any job, from image processing software development to hand-built computers.

Chili!Soft grew out of the first company. Our first product was the first to add Internet function to Microsoft Excel--before Microsoft ultimately did it. The second product was an application server called ChiliSoft ASP, which ran active server pages before Microsoft developed ASP--just with a home-grown scripting language. Eventually it became Sun One ASP, and then Oracle. It was put to rest in 2006--not a bad run. 

After ChiliSoft I started Mission Research, which made GiftWorks fundraising software, designed to be simple to use at a low cost so nonprofits could focus more of their funds on their core missions and less on technology. My co-founders were the first two employees of ChiliSoft.

After we developed the right product-market fit, we shot from 250 customers to about 2000 in only 18 months. And we reduced the average close time from 90 days to 29 days, which tripled our monthly sales. How? I had our sales team call all of our lost sales to find out why we lost them, and then all of our customers to find out what went into their decision process. Based on that we developed a sales system that addressed the key objections--and it worked. We built it to over 6,000 nonprofit customers until 2008 when I stepped down as CEO after a rough launch of our small business version of GiftWorks called SalesWorks. The company had grown to over 12,000 customers and continues to be one of the leading fundraising software companies in the country. In August 2013 it was acquired by Frontstream.

Most recently I started and led The Lancaster Food Company, a social impact company that made organic bread to hire people out of poverty. That was an incredibly rich but tough experience, and after four and a half years of growth and struggle we shut down, never having achieved critical mass or profitability. Tough loss.

For now I'm helping companies develop new paths to revenue, advising startup investors on improving the performance of existing investments and vetting new ones, advising startups on getting to profitability, and kicking around some new social impact ideas--this time without involving the grocery industry.

I'm deeply interested in ideas that solve big systemic problems, and developing profitable ways to improve the lives of those living near and below the poverty line. And frankly I'm interested in just about anything that improves the world through tech. I work on a retainer basis, but might be interested in leading the right company or new initiative.



LinkedIn
Contact
You can contact me at my gmail account at charlie.crystle