WashingtonExec caught up with serial entrepreneur and start up architect Clarence Wooten who is launching a new social networking platform, Arrived Inc. Wooten has launched and operated numerous technology-based companies since founding his first small business, Envision Designs, while initially studying architecture as an undergraduate student in college. His newest venture (Arrived Inc.) promises to help you make “soft plans” and spontaneously meet-up when timing is right.
WashingtonExec: How many companies have you started?
Clarence Wooten: 5 companies – Envision Designs (1991), Metamorphosis Interactive Studios (1993, acquired in 1998 by MetaSolv Inc.), ImageCafe.com (1998, Acquired in 1999 by Network Solutions/VeriSign), Groupsite.com (2006), Arrived Inc. (2011).
WashingtonExec: What do you think of the being dubbed a “Serial Entrepreneur”? When did you first get that title?
Clarence Wooten: I like the title. I think it describes me well! I got the title in 2000 when I was written up by Entrepreneur Magazine, they called me a serial entrepreneur in the article…. its stuck ever sense.
WashingtonExec: Please tell us about your latest company Arrived Inc.
Clarence Wooten: It’s semi-stealth, but it will say this: Arrived is designed to transform your social networks, into location-based personal networks.
WashingtonExec: You are currently building an “epic team” to help make Arrived Inc. a success, where are you building the team?
Clarence Wooten: Arrived will be based in Palo Alto, CA. I am in the process of relocating there. Although the DC area is great, I’ve come to the conclusion that Silicon Valley is Hollywood for tech entrepreneurs. Especially when it comes to building a consumer focused technology company. The investors are there, the talent is there, it’s the best place to do consumer technology. The DC area is great for Enterprise Software and Gov related technology companies but not great for early stage financing, especially if you’re focused on consumer technology. I am building my core team from talent that is located here and relocating them with me to the Bay area. I think it helps to go there with a core team in place.
WashingtonExec: Do you ever think about your personal brand? What does it do for you and how do you manage it?
Clarence Wooten: Yes. I really started thinking about the brand called “me” last year. I realized that as an entrepreneur, whenever I start a company, I am selling me because there is no company yet. So it became clear that I was a brand myself. To manage my brand, I created http://www.ClarenceWooten.com to highlight some of my accomplishments and share my thoughts on entrepreneurship and technology. It has been helpful.
WashingtonExec: When I first met you, you were building CollectiveX, which has since been renamed to Groupsite. Can you tell us how that company has evolved over the last 5 years and where you see it going in the next two years?
Clarence Wooten: We started off focused more on consumer groups, therefore we launched with a freemium business model with ads as our primary revenue source. As our platform matured (we added better features) and the economy took a turn for the worse, it became clear that it would be difficult to raise money, we started focusing on profitability, therefore we started focusing on larger organizations (i.e., associations, corporations and educational institutions). As a result, we got away from our freemium model and became a true software as a service (SaaS) offering. As a result, we are now profitable. I’m not sure that would be the case had kept our freemium model.
WashingtonExec: Do you anticipate looking for venture funding at some point for Arrived Inc, and if so, will you look for funds in the Mid-Atlantic or elsewhere?
Clarence Wooten: Yes. The plan is to go big with Arrived. We are in the early stages of presenting to Silicon Valley-based venture funds. We hope to have a round in place by mid summer, just prior to our launch.