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Exclusive - Alteryx CEO Dean Stoecker Talks Analytics and Technology Startups

Dean Stoecker co-founded Alteryx, LLC in 1997, the leading organization in data blending and advanced analytics with intuitive workflow leading to deeper insights in hours, not weeks. Alteryx is a global analytics organization with offices in London, Sydney and five locations in the US, and Dean serves as the Chief Executive Officer.

icrunchdata News speaks with analytics thought leaders about their career in data and also explores what their interests are outside of the office.  We recently caught up with Dean to discuss the history of Alteryx, the recent round of venture capital and what advice he would give his 25 year old self.

Dean, thanks for speaking with us today. Let’s get started…

You co-founded Alteryx, Inc in March 1997 under the name SRC, LLC and changed the name to Alteryx in 2010. Was there a defining moment or turning point in the organization that you can point to that had the biggest impact on the company?

To go from success to significance, any organization has to experience those defining moments.  In our case there were three.  Moving from a services firm to a product company in the first few years was critical for that first phase of growth.  Paying salaries and keeping lights on while you built IP was the toughest phase.

The second shift was going from a product company to a platform company which changed the game in even a bigger way.  IT and Line of business asked for ‘more capabilities in fewer tools’ and we obliged with the roll out of Alteryx.

Lastly, when you raise capital to fuel growth, you drive much more of a performance oriented culture, which helps drive more growth and reward for employees.

The company operated under the name SRC, LLC for 13 years before the changing the name to Alteryx, the name of the company’s core software product. How did you come up with the name Alteryx?

We have always had product naming contests for our employees and the naming Alteryx was no different: but honestly, because the product can do most any kind of data blending, data preparation and such a wide array of analytic processing, all in the hands of a data analyst without any coding or SQL statement writing, coming up with that one name was going to be challenging.

However, because we had a deep heritage in geo-spatial analytics, in the end, two employee recommended names were conflated to illustrate how databases could be spatially altered: hence, Alteryx (yx being spatial coordinates).  Plus it is always easy when the trademark office has no other registrants of that name.

In October, 2014, Alteryx raised $60 million in venture capital. What has changed in the last 10 months since that round of funding?

Not much has changed since the last round of funding except accelerated hiring and prosecution of our ‘land and expand’ business model.  We have had considerable headcount growth in all functional areas and opened up offices around the world to support our global expansion.  Plus, some of the investment was intended to continue our discipline around product innovation to support the generational shift in enterprise computing we are both a participant in and a catalyst for.

As the CEO, what are your top 3 priorities that you focus on every day?

I only get to choose three? LOL – Well, scaling excellence is a challenge but I focus on 1) building insanely great software, 2) recruiting and retaining amazing talent (the only true asset a company has) and 3) delighting customers with such an amazing user experience they keep buying year after year.  When these three focus areas prove out, any organization can scale.  This makes investors very happy!

You’ve been in data and technology your entire career but what if you had to make a complete career shift and it had to be outside of technology. What would you choose to do? 

This is a tough question as I have a bucket list you would not believe. I would enjoy many things around design, architecture, travel, helping young entrepreneurs, even politics.  Yes, maybe even running for office!

You earned your BS in International Business from the University of Colorado Boulder and Alteryx has a development center there. When you get back to Boulder, where is your ‘go to’ place to have lunch?

Well, I am largely vegetarian and the Boulder/Broomfield area has tons of great restaurants but I am usually an ‘eat a salad at my desk’ kind of guy.  If I were a meat-eater I would go to The Sink on the Hill.  My dad was a bus-boy there in the 1940’s and it is still a pretty cool landmark. Go Buffs.

I looks like your schedule has you traveling all over the world a lot. If there was one country that you could see yourself living in outside of the United States, which country would you choose?

While the world is full of so many beautiful and enchanting places, I am not sure I could call anywhere else home quite frankly.  I propose to take the next 20 years to see them all and then perhaps I will let you know. Deal?

What do you wish you had more time to do outside of the office?

Spend more time outside of airplanes I guess.  On a more serious note I would go on more hikes, do more biking and outdoor concerts.  Hard to beat the southern California climate.

Who are two business leaders that you haven’t met yet that you most admire?

I have always had tremendous respect for Elon Musk for taking big gambles on important ideas and Donald Trump for having a ‘don’t take crap from anyone in business’ attitude.  Every successful entrepreneur needs a bit of both.

If you could have a conversation with your 25 year old self, what advice would you give him?

The first thing I would tell him is to not wait until you are 40 to start your own business.  If you can pull it off at 40 you can pull it off when you have less wisdom and fear.  The second thing I would tell him is you have to sell your ideas with facts.  If the facts do not exist then you have to sell with immense passion if anyone is going to have faith in you.  Lastly, I would tell him that you can only be in one of two states in your life: composing or decomposing – so choose wisely!

Wow, that’s a perfect way to end our conversation. Thanks Dean for taking the time to speak with us today.

Article published by Todd Nevins
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