The Story of Buildium Co-Founder Dimitris Georgakopoulos, and How His New Startup Outseta Came to Be
Outseta and Buildium Co-Founder Dimitris Georgakopoulos was born in Greece, and came to the United States as a high schooler so he could be exposed to the country’s culture and opportunity. After high school, he got a scholarship at Providence College, where he studied Finance and Computer Science.
“I was there when the Internet was taking off, around ‘95, ’96, and it became really clear to me that the Internet was an avenue for me to be independent and entrepreneurial. I got involved in a small group at my school that took care of creating applications for the students, like a searchable email directory and a way to register for classes online,” Georgakopoulos said. “I got really excited that I could sit there by myself and design, build, and release something that 5,000 students would find useful and save them time. I saw that as my tool of freedom and creating something on my own.”
After school, Georgakopoulos joined PriceWaterhouseCoopers as a Senior Consultant for two years, but after he read an interview with one of the Sapient’s founders, Georgakopoulos became enamored with the company’s culture, and knew he needed to work there. He went in for an interview in 1999, got hired, and now looks back on his time with the company as “one of the best things I’ve done.”
“The place was booming with interesting people. Probably ten of the first people that started at Buildium came from my Sapient connections. And at Outseta, I’m also working with someone from Sapient. So everything goes back to my Sapient days.”
Georgakopoulos was with Sapient from 1999 to 2004 as a framework specialist. It was during this time that there was a “huge correction” in the market (namely, the dot-com bubble burst), and the company “went from 5000 people to 600 in a matter of two years.” However, in this challenging time, an opportunity arose.
“We were witnessing layoff after layoff, and Michael Monteiro and I were working in the same team. We were looking to diversify and ended up investing in some real estate down in Rhode Island, and that's where the idea came out for my first startup. We had bought up 11 apartment units and were managing 30 tenants, and it was becoming unwieldy to manage our properties with spreadsheets. We needed software, and I was looking for a new project to build, so that's how the company got started.”
Knowing that it was time to make a move on his idea, Georgakopoulos and Monteiro left Sapient and co-founded Buildium in 2004. Buildium is a software company that offers cloud-based property management software to property management companies, landlords, homeowners associations, and others.
Georgakopoulos and Monteiro spent a year building the product, put it out into the market, and “got crickets at first,” but as they kept improving their product and business, their success grew alongside it. After year one, they had one customer. After two years, they had 50.
The company remained bootstrapped for several years, working from home and a small Quincy office. It wasn’t until 2008 that the duo was able to afford a few employees and a small space in Downtown Boston. At that time, they had 500 customers. By the end of 2008, Buildium had 1,000 customers, and by the end of 2009, 2,000. By 2012, 5,000. Naturally, investors started to take serious interest.
“Around 2012, we started getting a lot of interest from private equity and VCs—pretty much everyone. I was getting calls and letters every day, and one of the investors came to our office and convinced us to have coffee with him. By the end of that meeting, he asked, “What will it take for you to take on an investment?”
According to Georgakopoulos, the company hadn’t considered the investor’s question before. “That question forced us to consider what we want out of Buildium. What will it take for us to take on investors?”
Ultimately, they decided to “dip their toes in,” trading some of the company for a “few million.” We used the money as an opportunity to invest more aggressively in marketing and sales, “just to see what would happen.”
“I didn't realize it at the time, but it’s very clear to me now that even though we took a small amount of money—and the idea was that we could always go back—there was no going back. We were off to the races.”
But while the company was growing bigger and bolder, Georgakopoulos started thinking about how much he enjoyed the old days, “I wanted to go back and do it all over again. I had a bug for the early days.”
Georgakopoulos decided to pursue his idea to start a new company, and took a step back from the day-to-day at Buildium. He teamed up with Geoff Roberts, who was the first Head of Marketing at Buildium, as well as Dave Wong, who Georgakopoulos worked with at Sapient. The result of their efforts was Outseta, founded in late 2016. They were in stealth mode until December, and the company launched on Product Hunt earlier this month.
The company offers the Outseta platform, an all-in-one toolset for SaaS startups. It includes subscription billing, CRM, customer communication, and reporting tools, and allows a company to get off the ground without “making selections on five different tools and then stitching them together at the same time.”
“There's too many point solutions, and we don't see a good player that's providing all of the tools needed to support an early stage SaaS business, nor are they offering the essence of what each tool does for smaller-size companies just starting out. We think there's an opportunity there.”
The pricing model is built for startups, as it’s free to use right out of the box. You just download and go, and the company’s website advertises that the first 250 contacts are “free forever.” Beyond the free plan, companies can pay $99/month (or $999 annually) for unlimited users, contacts, and emails, making it highly scalable for startups.
It’s not just the technology and pricing either—the startup focus permeates the entirety of the business. Like Georgakopoulos wanted, he’s starting from scratch. He has a three-person, fully bootstrapped team—though he notes that he leverages some support from a few part-time employees. Moreover, the company is embracing a self-management structure; their operating agreement is publicly available online.
As the company is still in the very early days, Outseta’s current focus is on adding functionality to their solutions over the next year or two. “It'll become a lot more comprehensive. We spent the first year going broad and now we are going to spend some time going deeper and addressing gaps in the core areas. We just brought one more person on board, and as we start getting more paying customers I imagine we're going to want to bring in a few more people. ”
That said, Georgakopoulos absolutely believes in the product as it exists today. He feels that it can be a game-changer.
“It’s everything you need to get going. That's our tagline. We feel every startup needs some basic tools, and we built those tools for ourselves. Our own business runs entirely on Outseta, and we're offering that to any other startup or small company that’s just starting out.”
Images provided by Outseta.