As the newly created chief revenue officer for Indianapolis-based hc1.com, Fairfield, Connecticut native Jeff Lautenbach is experiencing for the first time what it’s like to work for a company with fewer than 10,000 employees. He’s no stranger to building a business, though, and after several months immersed in hc1.com’s smaller startup environment, the smile on Jeff’s face says entrepreneurship agrees with him.
His roles as president CRM with SAP, senior vice president of sales with Salesforce.com, and vice president of software for IBM west and central regions had him managing global and large regional sales teams of up to 900 people. (hc1.com has fewer than 100 employees total.) He was at the tip of the spear as e-commerce came of age and he managed two of the world’s best known software brands during the emergence of the cloud, so he has made a habit of steering the ship through bleeding edge waters — experiences that surely serve him well as hc1.com innovates the vertical cloud.
One of the unique things about Jeff’s career is that as he moved into roles of greater responsibility at IBM, he took advantage of the opportunity to bring his family back to the city he loves. He and his wife Tricia first moved to Tricia’s hometown of Indianapolis shortly after graduating from Xavier University together in the early 1990s, but opportunities with IBM took them to Chicago and locations on the coasts for a number of years.
As Jeff rose among the sales ranks at IBM, he was offered a position leading a Midwest software operation, and he saw an opportunity to make it back to Indianapolis — the city he and his wife really enjoyed the first time around, and home to Tricia’s parents and all seven of her brothers and sisters.
“I love this city,” Jeff said. “Its an awesome city. I mean the accessibility and the downtown and the people are all just incredibly important to me now, and that was already pretty clear when I was still at IBM, so I parlayed that into staying in Indiana and it wasn’t too long before Salesforce.com came knocking. They said ‘why don’t you come out and live in San Francisco,’ but I told them that there were more advantages to having me in the middle of the country running North American sales. For one thing, if I’m out there I’ll be stuck in that San Francisco sense of gravity with the rest of the company, and since the sales force is out there strewn about the country it will be better to have me out here and identifying better with them.”
Jeff’s strategy worked, and after a couple of years SAP recognized his achievements by stealing him away and making him President CRM responsible for end to end CRM business for SAP globally, including everything from strategy, sales, operations, M&A and P/L. And yes, he did it all from Indianapolis.
At this point in his career, Jeff had a great deal of experience with selling and managing some of the world’s leading software products. He was starting to think seriously about his future and whatever he was going to do, he knew he wanted to continue building something.
“I had good experiences at great companies that were growing like hell and I got the chance to really build my part of the business,” Jeff said. “I always tell people there is a big difference between building and growing, and just running a business. Running a business is fine, but there aren’t a whole lot of large companies headquartered here, so if you just want to run something this is probably not the right place for you. But if you are a builder, if you want to put your fingerprints on something, then Indianapolis is the place to do that.”
Even before he joined SAP or Salesforce.com, Jeff had met hc1.com founder and CEO Brad Bostic around the same time Brad was spinning hc1.com out of his innovation shop. They were both operating in the cloud and sharing lessons learned over coffee once a month, and eventually Jeff landed on Brad’s customer advisory council for hc1.com.
“Around the New Year (2014), Brad and I started talking about what was next for me,” Jeff said. “I was starting to see the demand for the vertical cloud at SAP — you know, not just a sales force automation tool, but something specialized for a specific industry — and I thought it would be great to finally be in Indianapolis and be part of a growing Indianapolis company.
“I mean this company is freaking amazing! What customers really want is something that is specific to their industry that allows them to leverage the intricacies of their industry, and this innovative business here in Indianapolis is really at the center of making that happen for the healthcare cloud. I really thought I could uniquely help Brad and this team — by the way, the young talent here is pretty phenomenal — I thought I could help grow this business in some significant ways.”
As someone who has spent his entire career on the inside of large global organizations with corporate cultures developed by coastal leaders and geographies, Jeff sees Indianapolis as a place like no other tech hub he’s ever experienced. It may be a cliche, but Jeff says the Midwest sensibility or Hoosier hospitality that everybody talks about is real and that people here are more embracing, more collaborative and more willing to help. He said one of the biggest differences between Indy and other geographies is that there is a genuine interest that people have in you that makes you feel very connected to the community.
“The way we build businesses here (in Indianapolis) is all about the talent and tech builders,” Jeff said. “We use The Orr Fellowship as sort of our farm team and I have to tell you the talent coming in here is amazing, and they are staying here and that program has paid off in spades for us. And these young rising stars are making a contribution not only to us as a company, but to the city.
“It’s this young talent and the really solid team Brad has surrounded himself with who have really disrupted the market by zeroing in on the vertical cloud, and it’s my job as the CRO to set us up for success. How do you create the engine underneath that supports growth? How do you generate demand? How do you actually sell and close and make the most of every relationship or partnership, and then do it again? Those are the big questions I concern myself with most as CRO, and being part of this company is really exciting as we march toward this tipping point where all of the growth companies in healthcare are using hc1.com.”