We’ve seen high-tech companies — including Google, Microsoft and Tableau Software — open offices on both sides of Lake Washington in order to attract workers who don’t want to commute over the congested bridges. But Avalara, a little-known success story in these parts, faces a tougher challenge when it comes to recruitment. The maker of Web-based tax management software has the Puget Sound separating it from the multitudes of geeks in Seattle, Bellevue and Redmond.
Based on Bainbridge Island for the past seven years, Avalara has grown into a powerhouse in its industry. It now employs about 200 people, with annual revenue on pace to top $30 million this year. More than 8,000 customers use its product.
The company has no intentions of abandoning its island roots. In fact, it is planning to open a much larger headquarters facility on Bainbridge next month, which is conveniently located near the ferry dock.
The company just opened an office on 2nd Avenue in downtown Seattle, in part to recruit developers and executives who might not like the idea of jumping on the Bainbridge-Seattle ferry run every day. The new office has space for about 15 workers.
Recently named vice president of finance Annette Eyraud, along with five others, currently are based in the Seattle office.
“We recognize that having this presence downtown will certainly expand our reach into King County,” said Jason Warren, director of customer loyalty at the company.
Started with nine employees in February 2004, Avalara doesn’t get as much attention as some other technology startups around these parts. That’s driven in part by its location, but also because of the nature of its product. After all, a software-as-service tax product doesn’t always get the juices flowing. (In that regard, the company is kind of like Redmond’s Concur Technologies which has built a massive software-as-a-service business for travel and entertainment expense management).
Nonetheless, Avalara — founded by Rory Rawlings, Jared Vogt and Scott McFarlane — has been on a serious growth curve. Revenues doubled to $20 million last year, and the company expects sales to top $30 million this year.
No wonder the founders look so happy in their island garb on the company Web site.