Janice K Mandel Blog - CarsquareAutos, Cvent and Less than Six Degrees of Separation from Steve Case
It isn’t always apparent when the ripple effect of a local success story like AOL enriches a startup community. If you panned the crowd of the DC Chapter of Startup Grind fireside chat at iStrategy Labs in March, you might have missed one. Khurrum Shakir is founder of CarsquareAutos, a search engine similar to Kayak.com, that gathers information on car listings from multiple portals. Type in your information once and search them all. He recently caught up with Cvent CEO and founder, Reggie Aggarwal, at a fireside chat he learned of the day before at a Tech Breakfast and decided to attend with long-time friends and now, colleagues, Phil Howard, Director of Operations and Sales and Ronald Fraser, Chief Engineer. Though Khurrum and Reggie both have Asian roots what binds them is closer to home: northern Virginia and less than six degrees of separation from Steve Case.
During his “chat,” which he commandeered by bringing a slideshow, Reggie smiles wryly when he tells the group that as the son of two Indian engineers, his choice was to be an engineer or a doctor. Instead, he unsettled his parents by going to law school and then by becoming a bootstrapping entrepreneur right before the dot.com bubble and 9/11. They’ve come around now that Cvent is on the way to becoming the largest event management software company in the U.S., with 1,100 employees and used by 150,000 event and marketing professionals in 100 countries plus $136 in venture funding from an impressive list of business leaders, including Steve Case. But not before Reggie says he hit bottom as a 33-year-old nearly bankrupt entrepreneur who owed nearly every top executive in town and lived in his parent’s basement. It’s a darkest-before-the-dawn sound byte that captures at least as many headlines as Cvent’s growing success