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ForeSee Results

(734) 205-2600
2500 Green Road
Suite 400
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105

Larry Freed

What educational, entrepreneurial or business development programs, if any, have you taken advantage of?
Personally, my background in the banking industry (NBD Bank, First Chicago NBD and Bank One) and my time at Compuware provided a great learning ground and gave me a great respect for successful companies and the many things it takes to build and sustain a successful company. My father was a business owner and both growing up in and around those business and then after I started working being an investor in one of the businesses, I learned a ton about the challenges of running a small business.

And finally my education (BS in Computer Science and MBA) was very helpful. And the last piece of education was networking with many other tech entrepreneurs both in Ann Arbor and around the country, asking them a lot of questions and most importantly listening very closely. Having some exposure to small business and to larger companies is a good balance for any entrepreneur, because the goal is not to just build a small business but rather to build a successful, sustainable larger business.

Who was your first customer and where did you find them?
Our beta customers included Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Kelly Services, Crain's Detroit Business, Detroit News, Compuware, NASA.gov, USA.gov (then called Firstgov.gov) and the State of Michigan. These came from prior relationships and cold calling. Our first customers post beta included Visteon, Forbes, Computer Sciences Corp, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Virginia (later became Anthem Insurance) and Netscape, along with conversion of the beta customers. These deals also came mostly from cold calling but also some from leveraging prior relationships. Nothing beats cold calling because you really get to know fast if your product is appealing and has value to your prospects.

Where did you find your first employee?
Our first group of people working on ForeSee Results consisted of contractors from Compuware. Our first outside hire came from a competitor. We then began using networking, an outside recruiter and even a pink slip party (remember those) to find our first employees.

Have you promoted an intern to employee status, and if so how many times have you done it?
We have promoted a few interns to employee status.

Where have you turned to find capital to grow your company and which institutions have provided it?
We were co-founded by two companies, CFI (Claes Fornell International) and Compuware. CFI contributed the technology and IP of the American Customers Satisfaction Index with which we built our product around and Compuware contributed capital (and me). We were able to grow the company based on the initial capital investment. In 2007, two venture capital companies, Updata and Investor Growth Capital bought out Compuware's ownership.

What are some of the advantages to doing business here?
There are many advantages of doing business in Michigan, and more specifically in Ann Arbor. Any successful company needs a couple of key things to get started. The first is a good idea that gets turned into a business plan and the second is great people. The Ann Arbor community and the State of Michigan have great people. We often take for granted our great educational system here with the University of Michigan (and Michigan State, Wayne State and the rest of the great universities here in Michigan) and the outstanding people that graduate from these universities. The University of Michigan is one of the top research universities in the country and has a great Office of Technology Transfer to help facilitate getting technology out of the university setting and into private companies. We also have a great work ethic and level of loyalty amongst our people here. We can match either coast (if not beat them) when it comes to our people. After the idea and the people often the next major ingredient is capital. While our funding sources do lag the coasts (venture capital, angel investors, etc.) it is an improving environment. And as an entrepreneur, if you have a great idea you will be able to find the money, if not from within the state from outside the state. I am a big supporter of us starting and growing businesses right here in Michigan. This is going to be key to the recovery of the State of Michigan. I have a lot of confidence in our new Governor Rick Snyder and the head of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) Mike Finney. Their focus on creating an environment for companies here in Michigan to grow is critical to the State's success. Having known and worked with both of them for a number of years, there is nobody better not only to help Michigan companies grow but also to help us restore the entrepreneurial environment here in Michigan that the generations before us created. It is our time to reinvent that environment for the generations to follow.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about opening a business here?
Have great passion for what you are going to be doing. Starting a business takes a lot of energy and when you have that driving passion it gives you a fighting chance to be successful. I often hear entrepreneurs say the advice they give is don't be afraid to fail. I will be a little contrarian to that. I never want to go into a venture not being afraid to fail, but rather I want to use great passion, energy and confidence in the idea that are going to drive me to success. A little fear of failing can be a great motivator. Don't let fear stop you from trying, but use that fear to drive you to success. And finally, it takes only two things for a business to be successful, be fiscally responsible and satisfy our customers. These are not two simple things to accomplish, but if you can you will be able to do from starting a business to building a successful and sustainable business.

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