Roger Sippl woke up with an idea one night in January, and as is the tendency of the founder of three hugely successful software startups, he decided to build a company around it. “It’s a really good idea,” Sippl says laughing from his Menlo Park, Calif.,-based office. “Either I had to go and get a PhD with it, or start a company.”
Thus BAM! was born, the latest creation from the guy who brought the world Informix, Vantive Corp. and Visigenic Software.
Sippl, who also wears the hat of venture capitalist as a founding partner of Sippl Macdonald Ventures, seeded the company himself but when he decided to take the company from an idea to a product he could sell he went looking for outside investors. Sippl just closed his first institutional round a $6.5 million Series A deal backed by JPMorgan Partners. The round was done at a pre-money valuation between $9 and $10 million, Sippl says.
Sippl is a proven winner three times over, and one of Silicon Valley’s “great early-stage executives and entrepreneurs,” says Shahan Soghikian, a partner with JPMorgan Partners. Based on his track record of turning ideas into profitable companies, the decision to fund Sippl’s latest venture was not hard, he says.
Maybe not for Soghikian and his colleagues, but before JP Morgan said “yes,” Sippl encountered quite a few rejections when he started shopping his company around.
“I did pitch it to quite a few people,” he says. “Maybe if you had Microsoft’s business plan and you pitched it to 20 VCs today they would say no.’ If the price had been lower, I think I could have gotten yes’s out of about half the people.”
What BAM! (a working name for the company) is in the process of developing is what Sippl calls client side enterprise application integration software. What it does is simple, (though the math behind the programming is very complex – akin to relational algebra and as powerful Sippl says) it allows someone working at a computer to build a simple interface to integrate and use various Web-based services.
The example Sippl gave is a worker who wants to know what products a customer has on order. Now imagine the company is running Oracle, Siebel, SAP, you name it. One database, which has the product order information, may recognize customers by a customer number, but all the worker has is an address. Addresses reside on still another database. What BAM!’s software will do is talk to multiple applications/databases simultaneously. So the worker enters an address, one database connects the address with a customer number; the customer number is connected with products on order, and the information is sent.
“It’s not that much different from a browser,” Sippl says. “But instead of HTML you are creating an XML Web site in effect.”
Sippl, who is chairman and CEO of the startup, is clearly energized by the prospect of building his fourth company, but the obvious questions is: Why didn’t he just continue is his role as VC, invest the money and have someone else run the company?
Before he answers that question, Sippl is quick to point out that he plans on hiring senior management, but he is also adamant that he is going to stay on at BAM! to run the show.
“I have been investing in other entrepreneurs’ companies, and not many have impressed me too much in the past two to three years,” Sippl says. “The executives and the venture capitalists in many cases weren’t as engaged in the company as they ought to be. I felt an overwhelming urge to take matters into my own hands.”
Contact Michael Copeland