Success. Candor. And key insights from FullContact’s founder.
I’ve never heard a life story anything like Bart Lorang’s. I say that having read dozens of books and content over the years about entrepreneurs and business insights. The fact that Bart built and sold his first company while he was still in high school is just the beginning of his extraordinary data marketing journey. His story is particularly compelling, given that he was born in rural Montana outside of Bozeman. And the fact that he taught himself to write code at a very early age. These are just a couple of the highlights from a recent Gritty Founder podcast during which host Kreig Kent interviewed Bart. I strongly recommend people give it a listen. What follows are only some of the reasons why it is so engaging. Yes truth can be more amazing than fiction.
In addition to Bart’s formative years and early success, his inspiration for the eventual creation of FullContact is another of the remarkable high points from the interview.
During his college years in Colorado, Bart and his associates built an international computer data business hiring more and more employees. At around the age of 30, he also crossed paths with a classmate and his future wife while attending an MBA program at the University of Denver. Bart was particularly impressed and fascinated when he discovered that Sarah kept such a detailed roster of information about each person in her contacts file. Yet it reflected an inspired and strategic initiative. As a representative of the Four Seasons Hotel brand, Sarah was responsible for taking care of celebrities and VIP guests at one of their world class hotels.
An Emotional Intelligence Late Bloomer
Candor is one of Bart’s many strengths. It is evident when he recounts a particularly heated exchange he had years ago with an employee who was 20 years his senior. Bart’s company was growing. There were many employees and Bart was only 23. Yet for all of his accomplishments, during the high pitched argument the older, exasperated employee finally yelled “you have the emotional intelligence of a ‘t–d!’”
Bart never forgot what that employee said. Especially when coupled with the concern some people felt that Bart could be too … robotic sometimes. Years later while in the MBA program and courting a classmate who was to become his wife, Bart began focusing on his emotional intelligence and doing some serious “self-work”. During his interview with Kreig, Bart elaborates on how people vary widely regarding how we prefer to communicate and process information.
From Partial Contacts To FullContact.com
Eventually, based on the inspiration from Sarah’s detailed contacts file, Bart became the founder and CEO of FullContact. The company was launched some 10 years ago and now is an industry leader in the marketing world’s burgeoning identity resolution sector.
Given that in today’s digital world every individual’s extensive data is scattered across social media platforms and a vast number of databases, FullContact aggregates and organizes each person’s personal and public information. During the interview, Bart states that his company converts partial contact data into full, comprehensive contact information. The company helps brands create a whole person profile to deliver a more authentic, personalized experience with customers. But, importantly, controlling the use of that data should be up to each consumer.
A Hunch About The Value Of API’s
As the company grew, Bart had a notion that API’s could be a critical evolutionary step. His associates suggested that he test and learn about his theory. After floating the idea and soliciting form fill responses, the result was overwhelmingly positive. Years later Bart exhorts the need for all FullContacters to “ship, improve, repeat!” That mantra is an integral part of FullContact’s execution philosophy and values.
Business Insights From A Data Insights Expert
Yes founders will make mistakes. Bart tells Kreig Kent that he made many. The key is to quickly course correct. The important factor, as other entrepreneurs have stated, is to embrace what you learn, put it into practice and move forward. Bart also stresses the value of trying to stay lean and avoid excess to ensure your company can be nimble.
Another assertion is don’t succumb to temptation by exiting a company too soon. Plan for a longer term horizon such as a 10 year commitment to the company.
Among his favorite quotes is this one from General Patton:
A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.
Finally Bart also makes an important distinction saying ‘nevermind striving for a work/life balance. That’s just not realistic. You can’t just turn off work. We should all cultivate a work-life harmony.
You can find Bart’s interview with the Gritty Founder here.