Brian Reale is the CEO & Co-Founder of Durham-based ProcessMaker, a leading low-code process automation software company. Brian is a serial entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience managing high-tech companies. Prior to co-founding ProcessMaker in 2000, Brian founded Unete Telecomunicaciones, a long-distance voice and data carrier in South America that he sold to a publicly traded U.S. telecom company in 2000. Brian also co-founded Spotless, an entertainment technology company and the developer of the Spotlesslight, an innovative live digital-lighting technology.
Brian graduated magna cum laude from Duke University in 1993 and was a Fulbright scholar in linguistics in the Amazon jungle of Ecuador in 1994.
- What is in your pockets?
In my pockets, I have my phone, a biodegradable dog poop bag that I forgot to take out, a key fob and hand sanitizer, because I just got back from Latin America where the pandemic is still raging and everybody is using hand sanitizer like a hundred times a day unfortunately.
- What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
ProcessMaker is a workflow automation and low-code process design platform which allows relatively non-technical people to rapidly build enterprise solutions. We have customers in 52 different countries, automating all sorts of different processes. It’s about letting people design much more quickly and easily things that would have taken them months, or maybe even years, in terms of rolling out new processes and products—they can now do in a matter of weeks on ProcessMaker.
The most exciting thing was that after 20 years of being a completely bootstrapped business, we decided to partner with a private equity firm called Aldrich Capital Partners. It allows us to enter into a new chapter and we’re excited to have new ideas and new partners in the business, which is great for me. It’s pushing me to think about things in a totally different way. As a result, we’re also really trying to grow much faster and looking for key people.
We’ve also opened up a new office in India, so now we’ve got offices in four countries. And we’ve really started going much, much deeper in one of our core verticals, in the community banking space, as we’ve rolled out a product for commercial account-opening that’s being sold through and to community banks.
- What is your favorite coffee spot?
I’ve actually been taking a break from coffee, which I do every 12 months or so. I’ll go three months cold turkey and then work my way back in. Caffeine is an amazing thing, but once you’re drinking coffee every day, you forget how amazing it is. Michael Pollan talks about this in his book. So, right now I’m totally off coffee—and caffeine, actually. If not, I would go to Cocoa Cinnamon.
- What keeps you up at night?
We have this platform for building solutions and the problem with platforms are they’re like a hammer looking for a nail. And so, although we’ve done great selling our platform and we’ve generally been an inbound-driven business, people have looked and found us. Our core is open-source, so people all around the world downloaded it and then found it. And that’s how we grew to the level that we’ve grown to so far.
But about four years ago, we decided, “Hey, we want to add in an outbound, more determinant, predetermined, deliberate sales motion.” And that’s all around vertical specialization. And so, hence in the banking, we’ve got this commercial account-opening product. In higher education, we have a series of products.
So, for me, the thing I spent most of my time thinking is verticalization, meaning: what else should we be creating and selling? And how much further into a vertical vein can we go? Generally, I’m a product guy, so I love thinking about things that we can build. And I generally try and come up with a couple ideas every day, knowing that it’s going to take hundreds of really bad ideas to find a good one. So, that’s what I really enjoy doing.
- What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
Elmo’s Diner, which probably let you know that I have kids. I appreciate any place which the moment you walk in, they’ve got crayons and drawing paper in your kid’s hands. As a parent, you realize that’s one of the most powerful combinations. It gives you a few extra moments to just relax and enjoy your meal if your kids are coloring. If I’m not with the kids, I do like Juju Durham. I think they’re top of style. Food is great.
- What is next for you or your organization?
Right now, it’s so much organization- and capacity-building. We’re looking to hire people. I ran an extremely lean bootstrapped business, so really was missing that general executive team. Part of the idea of partnering is now to build that out. We’re looking for a number of VP and C-level positions. I’m excited to have that extra brainpower on the team. We’re becoming much more data-driven. I thought I had good data, but we’re now getting to a whole new level, which is great. That’s the internal side.
On the external side, I’m excited to look around after we get through that phase and think about what can be added to the business in terms of acquisitions. We’re looking at that. We just finished a huge rebuild of our core product platform and we’ve been busy getting customers onto that platform and it’s really powerful. We made a big investment, spent a number of years building it, and we’re starting to now see the acceleration because of it and we’re introducing that in a variety of ways to our customers.