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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 (subsequently 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. We built it to over 12,000 nonprofit customers 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 in highly competitive markets we closed the business.

Currently 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 ideas around Internet of Things, platforms, and payment systems.

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.



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

Popular posts from this blog

Beta Signup

I've been working for quite a while on a new search concept, though the further in I get, the closer the rest of the world gets to what we're doing.

So today I'm inviting you to sign up for the rather modest beta, which will be ready soon if we can nail down a few difficult  details.

Jawaya is a way of navigating the web and getting better results. And that's as much as I can say right now, because we're not a funded startup, and things are moving really fast in this space--it's going to be very competitive. I predict there will be about 10 funded startups in the next 6 months doing something similar. One of them will be mine, and we aim to make it the best.

We're raising a round of capital to fund the team, and are shooting for early sustainability. This is my fifth company; my fourth in the tech space, and my third software company. I think it will be the biggest and can possibly have a positive impact on the world by reducing the amount of time it takes for…

Search & Privacy

I've been using DuckDuckGo.com (DDG) for search recently instead of Google because of its privacy features--it doesn't track you or store your searches. And generally I find it to be useful, delivering relevant content better than or equal to Google's relatively commercial content.

When I want to shop for something, I go to Google because it's a strong engine for that--it's a commerce discovery platform when it comes down to it. Or Amazon.

DDG doesn't track anything, which is meaningful these days when every site and likely every agency tracks what you're doing.

I still think there's a space for curated search, which is what I attempted to do with the unfortunately named Jawaya, a social search or curated search engine of sorts. And I've been building a similar tool for myself as a side project that will approximate that. It's much more powerful with a network of people curating search results. So I might open it up at some point to see if that …

Where Innovation Happens

As I get closer to a go/no-go decision on a project, I've been thinking about the difference about my vision for the project and the supportive innovations to enable the core innovations

The vision combines (in unequal parts) product, core innovation as I imagine it, the application of that core innovation, design, marketing,  developer ecosystem, and business development. The core innovation enables everything else, but it's the application of the innovation that makes it meaningful, useful, and in this case, fun.

This week we're testing initial approaches to the implementation for our specific application, and that's where we'll develop the enabling innovations, which is basically where the rubber meets the road.

The difference is that the enabling innovation happens at the source of real problems only encountered in the making of something, and in a project like this just getting the essence of it right isn't enough; it also has to be safe, the components h…