Business

Business Spotlight: Interview with Mark Mader, CEO, Smartsheet.com | Sandeep Krishnamurthy

Bellevue is home to some of the most innovative companies in the world. Meet the CEO of one of your “neighborhood” companies, Smartsheet.com, Mark Mader.

Founded in 2005, Smartsheet is venture backed and headquartered in Bellevue. It is currently experiencing triple digit growth and they are a top five solution for project management in the Google Apps Marketplace. Their customers live in over 40 countries. They are aggressively hiring to fuel this explosive growth.

Sandeep: Can you provide a short overview of Smartsheet.com?

Mark: Smartsheet is a software service that enables people to share, update, and track work online. Its unique value proposition centers on the ability to create, manage and share virtually any kind of list (project, task list, or sales pipeline, etc). Beyond what online spreadsheets provide, Smartsheet allows documents and discussions to be stored at the row level and can display the lists in interactive calendar and Gantt views as well.

Sandeep: Where did the idea originate?

Mark: The idea originated after recognizing that a far more efficient solution could be delivered to the millions of people who rely on spreadsheets, e-mail correspondence, and file attachments to get work done. While we believed strongly in the merits of an online collaboration tool, we felt two factors were fundamental for success: 1) Complement what people already use - e-mail, Google Apps, MS Office, MS Project, etc. and 2) Make it dead simple for the person managing the process and anyone they invite.

Sandeep: Your company is based on the Software as a Service (SaaS) concept. Can you explain why this is an important trend to someone who has not heard the term? Can non-tech businesses benefit from this?

Mark: Software as a Service enables people to subscribe to and use software over the Internet. Also referred to as "On-demand," licensing is pay-as-you-go (versus a large upfront purchase) and does not require the customer to install or upgrade software. Other benefits include accessibility from any computer with a web browser and the ability to easily share information with others online.

SaaS is one of the fastest growing segments in technology and is available to anyone with access to a web browser and the Internet. More than half of our customers are "non-tech" businesses - ranging from small non-profit organizations to mid-sized consulting firms to divisions of large consumer goods companies. In additional to our commercial clients, Smartsheet is used at over 100 universities and government agencies as well.

Sandeep: Your company is located in Bellevue. How important is your location to your success? Could you do this anywhere or is there something in the air here that enables your success?

Mark: Similar to our customers being able to access Smartsheet from nearly anywhere in the world, Smartsheet could technically manage the service from any location, too. However, companies are not static and location plays a pivotal role in finding and retaining the talent to innovate, market, and serve customers. With headquarters in Bellevue, we are well positioned to benefit from its experienced labor pool.

Sandeep: What are your goals in the next five years? Where is Smartsheet.com going?

Mark: Create raving fans who benefit from the convenience, reliability, and value of Smartsheet's online software. An overarching theme for the next phase of growth is accessibility. This includes providing value added integrations to mainstream services (e.g. Google Apps Marketplace), developing optimized experiences for the ever growing mobile device market, and expanding the number of non-English speaking markets we serve.

Sandeep Krishnamurthy, Ph. D., is the Director of the Business program at UW Bothell (http://www.uwb.edu/business). He oversees the undergraduate and MBA programs in Bothell and at the UW Bothell Eastside Leadership Center in Bellevue. He can be reached at SKrishnamurthy@uwb.edu or at 425-352-5229.

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