Click here to read part 1 of the interview Providing IT solutions that keep organizations in highly regulated industries secure, compliant, and proactive Chris Sachse is the CEO and co-founder of Horsetail Technologies. Horsetail provides collaborative, shared IT services for credit unions as well as members of other highly regulated industries nationwide. Through assessments, managed services, staffing, project consulting, and more, Horsetail allows its customers to navigate a complex technological environment without compromising safety or regulatory standing. Clients include Coastal Federal Credit Union, Marriott Employee Federal Credit Union, TwinStar Credit Union, and thousands of others. Tell us about your roots. How did you first finance Horsetail? Mark Berman and I started the company together, and to date we have been solely funded privately by the two of us. Mark previously owned Mary Sue Chocolates, so he had a background in both business ownership and manufacturing. He was working with his brother at a financial planning firm as COO, and underneath that fell technologies, so we actually had a working relationship as well. I sold IT consulting services to his brother’s company. Through talking, we really both understood that we could capitalize on focus. That instead of focusing in a specific vertical, we focused on a specific region, and the efficiencies that come from focusing on a vertical and becoming experts within that vertical led us to believe we could start something that was different from what was out there. So, I came with a lot of the background and how to establish the company, and Mark came with business experience. When we first started, I would actually go out and do assessments for our clients. We would look at their hardware platforms as well as their IT department as a whole and try to identify what should be outsourced and what should be in-house. What we quickly realized was the conflict of interest: to have a company that both sells those services and assesses those services was a big challenge. So, we partnered with a few companies in the industry that do IT strategy, we let them go out and find the best strategy for the credit union and then they come back and we can implement a custom solution. Could you describe your role as a leader in the company? Today, we have I think a pretty good structure in place where we meet with our executive leadership team every Friday, just for lunch, and delegate many things to them. Each of them are required to have a team strategy that they bring and modify and keep up-to-date, and then Mark and I share in the mentorship of the individual leaders to help bring them along as the strategy progresses. Then, he and I get together at least monthly in a pretty in-depth process to go through what changes we may be facing. But it needs greater formality as, you know, when you are a small business everybody can come in and be used to a certain style of working and it’s a little more chaotic—it’s a little more ad hoc. As we have grown and brought in a leadership team and built in middle management, the ability to work spontaneously has gone away and so we’ve had to be more disciplined in our communication and in our collaboration. It’s somewhat of a work in progress. How big is Horsetail now, in terms of personnel? We are at 25 employees right now. I think we are going to be pushing the hundred employee mark by 2020. I think that we will probably have some larger regional footprints—Baltimore will be our headquarters always—but I think we will start to see a bigger footprint on the West Coast certainly. And I think we’re actually going to see a greater adoption of our software services than we do today. The service business in and of itself will become more focused in terms of what we are delivering and less customized, but I think the opportunity for us as we get in and work with these credit unions is within building software platforms that allow them to become more efficient in their management of their regulatory burden. Have you ever considered selling the company? Mark and I both really want to create a long-term company that’s here, that doesn’t have to answer to an investment group. As soon as you bring in investment, you have to have an exit strategy. I’m too young to want an exit strategy, so we’re trying to avoid that if we can.
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