The website Mixergy is on a mission to share the stories of entrepreneurs and how they got to where they are today. So when Mixergy founder Andrew Warner invited Concur President and COO Rajeev Singh to take part, the result was an hour of insight on what it takes to develop not just a product but what it takes to create a great and enduring company.
“[T]he idea was we really believed that if we applied the principles that we thought were right about building a company that you could be super proud of and that people would enjoy working in, then we could build something great and enduring at some level, as naive as that sounds,” Singh says in the interview. “We said it was going to take a lot to move us from where we are because we love what we’re doing and we’re in this for the long haul.”
Back in 1993, prior to the invention of spreadsheets, the Internet and computers as we now know them, Concur started with the idea of figuring out how to help people with their expense reports. “Expense reporting was a problem that everybody had but no one had really solved how to automate the process,” he says about those early days. The first product Concur developed was QuickXpense. It came in a shrink-wrapped box complete with both 5.25 and 3.5 inch floppy disks. The software was a quick hit.
Transitioning away from the shrink-wrapped version of the software, then, was a huge decision for the company. Deciding to break away from floppy disks and toward the idea of software as a service was seen as a huge risk. “[W]e certainly had a number of people on Wall Street or people in the investment community or people in the technology community saying there’s no proven business model out there that says it can be done. There are not profitable software as a service companies out there.”
But the risk ended up paying off. Concur remains a leader in cloud computing. And the opportunities found here are both exciting and rewarding. “There aren’t that many 1,400-person software as a service companies out there,” Singh says. “We remind people here all the time…’You’re solving problems right now for the first time. There are a lot of people out there who are going to follow down your path, the path that you’re blazing, but you’re looking at a set of data and making a decision and you could be the first person to solve that problem.’ How cool is that? There’s just not that many fun opportunities like that for us that we would trade this for.”
Watch the interview in its entirety at Mixergy for more history on the early days of Concur, the importance of hustle for entrepreneurs, the creation and launch of Concur Breeze, the significance of establishing a positive corporate culture, and the power of believing in what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.