The Download: Amit Sharma, CEO, CData Software

Amit Sharma is the Co-Founder and CEO of Chapel Hill-based CData Software (CData), a company specializing in interconnecting applications and data sources that power business operations. CData’s products are used in Business Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, and Integration applications.

Amit grew up in India and came to the U.S. for higher education. He has worked with his co-founders for over 16 years. He helped build the products that were the precursor to CData, which eventually took shape as CData offerings. Amit has master’s degrees from both NCSU and Duke, making him very popular with his team of mostly UNC alumni.

  1. What is in your pockets?

Nothing. I like to keep my pockets empty, which makes me paranoid about checking if I have my phone, wallet, and keys every time I walk out of the door.

  1. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?

We brought on Updata Partners as a capital partner. That’s pretty exciting for us. The company has been bootstrapped for many years and has had a consistent growth of around 50% for some years now. We have been profitable all this while. When we set out to look for a capital partner, some of our advisors questioned the need for them.

Our goal was to find someone with operational experience in managing and working with enterprise software companies. It was less about the money raised and more about finding a partner that understood how to scale a software business. We had the luxury to take our time in identifying the right partner. We spoke to several VC firms over two to three years, got serious offers from a handful of them, and then selected Updata. We closed on March 23rd at the peak of Covid uncertainty. The Updata team stuck to the terms negotiated pre-Covid and were helpful right from the start.

I couldn’t be happier with our choice. The Updata team has been outstanding partners. The founding team has a conservative bias, which has helped us build a sustainable business. With Updata on board, we are more aggressive in investing for growth. We recently hired an industry-leading Chief Revenue Officer and are currently in the market to look for a suitable CFO.

  1. What is your favorite coffee spot?

I prefer the Indian masala chai to coffee and brew it myself at home. It tastes nothing like the Starbucks chai, which has too much cinnamon for my taste. When I’m traveling, I prefer a latte—the milk comes first, the coffee is secondary. I grew up in an Indian family with rural roots; drinking milk three times a day was the norm until you were old enough to drink chai.

  1. What keeps you up at night?

The efficiency and well-being of the organization collectively and team members individually. We are adding talent at a dramatically different rate than we have in the past. We are planning for the team in the US to grow by nearly 50%. We are also bringing people at C-level positions.

We were a smaller group, which allowed almost everyone on the team to work with one of the founders. Our values were in plain sight, enacted every day as part of doing business – this will no longer be feasible. As we bring new leaders on board, we will need to be humble and open-minded to benefit from new perspectives.

On an individual level, I worry about the stresses the Covid world has inflicted on our team. I’m fortunate to have a family that supports me, but a lot of our team members are single and have lost their social environment.

I’m not too concerned about any particular competitor or our ability to overcome operational hurdles. I believe a well-organized, motivated group of people operating at their full potential will get us where we need to be.

  1. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?

We are a regular at Twisted Noodles, a small family-run business in Durham. I also liked going to City Kitchen in University Place for business lunches. It was sad to hear reports that they closed due to Covid.

  1. What is next for you or your organization?

We need to build the next generation of our product as a cloud-hosted offering. Our technology is embedded in many of the world’s leading cloud applications through our OEM (original equipment manufacturers) partners. But we will be able to open new markets if we offered CData connectivity that was available without the friction of deploying software, a continuously improving/evolving service, available at a price that matches consumption patterns.

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About Brooks Malone 60 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and Raleigh Founded.