I started my career as an engineer, and my path to entrepreneurial success with Katun Corporation was gradual and cumulative. In 1969, having spent eight years working in government-focused engineering consulting capacities with the Boeing Company and the Stanford Research Institute, I stepped out on my own, co-founding the firm Computer Synectics. Our company developed monitors that measured and enhanced computer performance, and we filled a distinct market niche. This led to high profitability, but we were very small, with less than $1 million in annual sales.
In 1970, we brought in venture capitalists for what looked to be a “home run” deal, despite a weak economy and stock market instability. The value of my stock from the deal we achieved amounted to $500,000, which felt like a great deal of money at the time. Unfortunately, the following year, IBM took competitive actions because of the negative impact we were having on their revenues. IBM’s actions turned Computer Synectics into a narrowly defined consulting business.
In 1972, I was out on my own again, looking for a position that would provide for my wife and two young children. The only real option that presented itself was with Dataquest, a start-up composed of five very qualified Stanford MBAs and engineers. Working as a team, we built Dataquest into one of the first successful high-tech market research companies, tailoring our analytics to the needs of institutional investors. A very interesting aspect of being a part of Dataquest was witnessing Silicon Valley expand and come into its own. Over the years, our client base expanded to include all of the large high-tech firms in the area, and many of the medium-sized enterprises as well. Dataquest was successfully sold to AC Nielsen in 1978.
When I co-founded Katun Corporation in 1979, I was still serving as Executive Vice President of Dataquest (I became CEO of Dataquest in 1981). My business partner and friend was the CEO who built the company from ground up to a $300 million company. I provided a small amount of start-up capital, extensive market knowledge, and the ability to execute deals. There were many small companies already providing our products similar to ours. Our initial aim was simply to grow our enterprise to a $20 million sale level. However, we found that we were able to outperform competition, and our firm grew exponentially over the next two decades. When Katun was finally sold in 2002, our revenues were in excess of $350 million.
About the Author: With four decades of success in high tech industries, David Jorgensen holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Washington in Seattle. Today, he is active in philanthropy, serving as President of the David & Annette Jorgensen Foundation and Vice Chairman of The Free To Choose Network.