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Anup Kejriwal

You may have heard of Yammer, which allows co-workers to share documents, instant message and manage tasks in a protected online environment. Now, Bellevue’s MangoSpring is looking to take a bite out of its San Francisco rival with a new release this week of its social collaboration service which it says is cheaper and more robust than Yammer.

Founded in 2007 by former ThumbSpeed and Go2Net executive Anup Kejriwal, MangoSpring employs 55 people between offices in Bellevue and Pune, India. We chatted with the 39-year-old entrepreneur, who holds a MBA from the University of Washington and a computer science degree from the University of Iowa, to find out how MangoSpring plans to compete with its better known rival as well as find out some of his secrets to startup success.

Explain what you do so our moms can understand it: 
”(The) next big productivity gain in business will come from better, faster collaboration. We have developed new tools to help businesses do that.”

Inspiration hit us when: “I felt the need for it during my last startup. With half of us based out of Seattle and half the team based out of Mumbai, it took a lot of effort to keep everyone on the same page and collaborate with them in a meaningful way. So after the acquisition of my last company, when I was ready for the next challenge, the natural choice was to try to solve the pain points I had communicating with a team across the ocean. From an opportunity perspective it made immediate sense as we are firm believers, actually living proof, in the idea that Thomas Friedman championed in his book “The World is Flat.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap:  “We bootstrapped the company in 2007 and continue to invest in it. Doing so forced us to be lean and it’s also enabled us to focus on building our business the old-fashioned way. On a lighter note, from time to time, balancing the need for growth with the cost of that growth makes for an interesting discussion.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is:  “Our people and company culture. Everyone at MangoSpring is a shareholder and an important party of the company. More importantly, they’re all empowered to think and make decisions like an owner, and that creates a very powerful and productive company that can easily take on companies 10x its size.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Staying independent. We believe this is the new way of doing business and will create a few new fortune 500 companies. Getting to that requires lots of experimentation and product innovation. Staying independent has given us the flexibility to be agile and do just that.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We have made lots of mistakes from product development to product marketing decisions; we have made all the mistakes you can think of. Fortunately, we have yet to make a fatal mistake.”

Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Gates. For all he has done for our industry and people around the world by successfully bringing personal computing to the masses.”

Our world domination strategy starts when:  “We have successfully migrated more than 100 fortune 5000 businesses to MangoApps from SharePoint and Lotus Notes.”

Rivals should fear us because: “We stay away from hype and euphoria and are firmly rooted in providing maximum ‘value’ to our customers. Social business software combined with the cloud is the hottest segment in enterprise software. But it won’t remain that way forever. While competitors are focused on marketing gimmicks and tricking customers into paying more, we are focused on building a great product and bringing down the cost of computing so that everyday business software is available to all employees (no enterprise software pyramid) just like email is.”

We are truly unique because:  “We eat our own dog food and are firmly rooted in providing maximum ‘value’ to our customers. Over the last two years, MangoApps has replaced all the communication, collaboration and management software we used to use (outside of email and phones).”

The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is:  “Building the team and raising awareness around our product and company. We have an amazingly smart team that is persistent and laser focused on building the best product for our customers.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Highs are very high, lows are very low. So be prepared for the lows, evolve and bring a good dose (10x of what you think you will need) of persistence and patience.”

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