the seeds of your success or failure based on your track record.”
His prospective investors agreed that the business model was sound–and potentially lucrative. By May 2004, ITM raised an additional $12.8 million, bringing total invested capital in the firm to $15.8 million. Ascend Ventures ponied up $3 million in the second round while other remaining funds came from Technology Partners, ITM’s initial investor; InnoCal Venture Capital, an early-stage venture firm in Southern California; and New Vista, a private equity fund operated by two African American tech vets, Frank S. Greene and Michael Fields, both listed among BE’s Top 25 Blacks in Technology.
African American participation was extremely important to Coleman, who enabled some to invest as little as $50,000–an unusual move for a tech startup. “There were some people who wanted to invest in the company, but couldn’t spend a lot of money,” he says. “I wanted to allow some African Americans to put some money in my deal.” He also gained significant black participation in governance and strategic issues, tapping tech powerhouses such as James I. Cash, a former Harvard Business School professor and another member of BE’s Top 25 Blacks in Technology, to sit on ITM’s board as well as John Thompson, CEO of Symantec, the security software juggernaut, and BE’s 2004 Corporate Executive of the Year, to serve on his advisory committee.
Make no mistake about it–launching, funding, and running a startup is no easy feat. Not everyone is cut out for the task. Could Coleman, a corporate exec, make the transition to entrepreneur? “Ken historically has been incredibly successful at running big companies, but the classic knock against these guys has been, ‘Can they scale down to do a startup? Can they do the hand-to-hand combat that a startup requires versus managing and building teams?” says Gibbons.
Some might wonder what would possess Coleman, who had “paid his dues” in the industry and could simply retire comfortably, to tackle a tech startup–a process as notorious for its success as its failure. After all, Silicon Valley is littered with the bones of big ideas, killer apps, and cool companies that imploded or simply faded away after all the hype.
The challenges didn’t keep Coleman and company from hitting the road and looking for new clients and, in the process, taking on competitors such as enterprise software leaders Siebel and Peoplesoft and making pitches to potential customers. So far, the company has snagged a quality roster of customers including SGI, Intuit, the State of New Jersey, and LifeScan, a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson and the nation’s leading manufacturer of self-monitoring blood glucose meters for diabetics.
What has ultimately given ITM the competitive edge is its ability to help customers compile data and integrate management functions quickly. In most companies, if a chief information officer wants to manage an information technology project and, say, track time, manage allocation of resources, estimate cost, and assess its progress, he or she would have to review several complex and separate spreadsheets. ITM’s