Don Fornes is the founder and chief executive officer of Software Advice, a Houston, Texas-based company that helps people find the right software for their organization. So far, Software Advice has assisted more than 126,000 buyers, researched over 1,800 software products, and curated almost 3,230 end-user software reviews on its website. Aside from publishing its findings online, Software Advice helps buyers by phone. The company offers advice for free and only gets paid when a buyer is matched with a suitable software vendor. For software companies, Software Advice is a valuable source of new and repeat customers.
Software Advice got started like many companies – by recognizing a gap in the market and filling it. According to Fornes, the opportunity presented itself to him. He was researching various software markets in 2004 and 2005, looking for companies to acquire, when he realized that he had done nearly all of the research by himself. There were no websites that consolidated information on software in niche vertical markets, so he decided to create one. In addition, Fornes was tired of working for other people and being a “B player.” Determined to become the “A player” he used to be again, he “burned all the ships” and quit his job without a business plan, a business partner, or funding. While he doesn’t recommend that other entrepreneurs follow what he did, Fornes says it was the best path for him because he knew he would be motivated when the clock was ticking.
Fornes’ bold and risky move has paid off, and Software Advice now employs about 60 people. Moreover, the company has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest-growing in America. “The biggest overarching tip I can give to companies is stressing the need to start with the business problem and not the technology,” says Fornes. “Don’t jump at technology because it’s new and shiny, rather identify the biggest business challenges and inefficiencies in your processes first.”