In December 2017, team-knowledge software maker Guru rode the wave of its $9.3 million Series A to a 6,000-square-foot Center City office two blocks south from City Hall.
At the time of the September ’17 funding round — led by San Mateo VC Emergence Capital — the startup had its team of 30 crammed inside Old City offices on Strawberry Street, around the corner from the Museum of the American Revolution. Cofounder and CEO Rick Nucci really tried, but couldn’t find enough space to keep the company in Old City.
“It’s a sore subject,” Nucci told Technical.ly Monday, at the company’s new HQ on the 11th floor of the North American Building at 121 S. Broad St. “We knew we’d be ramping up the team so we needed more space.”
(Per Design and Experience Lead Jon Billett, part of the reason it’s a sore subject is that the team misses the proximity to Han Dynasty and Khyber Pass.)
Dotting the walls of the Philly office are venue concert posters designed by Guru’s team and a group of Philly artists like JP Flexner, Shawn Hileman and Alex Fine. All meeting rooms are named after local music venues. This reporter met with Nucci inside the Troc, a room named after Chinatown’s Trocadero.
Nucci says expansion from the Series A — and a “quickly-growing” customer list — also spread beyond Philly: Guru stealthily opened up a small five-person San Francisco office, around the corner from Bullpen Capital in the shadow of the massive new Salesforce tower. The move follows the playbook Nucci used with his previous startup, Boomi, sold to Dell in 2010.
“The strategy is the same as with Boomi: a 75 percent /25 percent split between Philly and San Francisco,” said Nucci, who started the company alongside CTO Mitchell Stewart in 2015. “It’s also about proximity to partners and customers.”
Partners like team communications giant Slack, which invested in Guru’s $1 million seed round in 2016. Or Salesforce, or Zendesk, makers of tools that Guru’s AI-powered software platform can draw information from.
Nucci, who travels to San Francisco one week out of every month, said some roles in sales, success and marketing that open up at Guru will be posted for both Philly and SF. This is telling of what’s to come at Guru, Nucci said.
“We’ve been seeing bigger companies do real work with Guru faster than I thought,” the former Philly Startup Leaders president said. “We’ve seen 1,000 person teams and 10,000 person teams. Now it’s a bigger part of our growth and we have to set the team up for our next level of scale. We’re starting to look for specialists who’ve gone deep in certain areas like enterprise sales.”
But that scale will come with time, said the CEO.
“We’re here for a long game,” Nucci said. “We’re asking how far can we take Guru and what can this company look like in 10 years. That’s the horizon that I want the team to be thinking about. I’m not in a rush.”
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