Northwestern Entrepreneur in the Spotlight — Grant Gochnauer
Purple Arch Ventures sat down with Grant Gochnauer, Co-Founder & CTO at Vodori
We’re pleased to introduce you to Grant Gochnauer, Co-founder & CTO of Vodori, and an advisor to Purple Arch Ventures. His company provides SaaS products that help life science companies integrate the content supply chain expediting approvals and publication, cut cost and risk, and drive commercial result.
From his kindergarten days, where Grant questioned why he needed to go to school at all — after all, he could just look everything up! — Grant has been a figure-it-out guy. In this Straggl interview, full of insights about Vodori and classic startup lessons, Grant recounts how he navigated some challenging pivots and Catch 22s. But he says that “having a good relationship with co-founders can get you through almost everything.”
We sat down with Grant to ask him a few questions about Northwestern, his first steps into entrepreneurship, and Vodori’s company culture.
Was there a particular reason that you were drawn to study at Northwestern?
Since I was a child, I have always had a passion for technology. As I grew older, I knew I wanted to stay well-rounded with a great humanities education. The desire to stay balanced was why I chose Northwestern, which offered the perfect blend of art and science.
What did you study at Northwestern?
I was a Computer Information Systems major in the Weinberg School. It was great because it offered the same computer science classes as the McCormick School of Engineering, while also giving me the opportunity to take art, music, philosophy, and business courses.
What was one of your earliest experiences of being an entrepreneur?
At age 10, I started a business running a multi-node Bulletin Board System (BBS). It was a dial-up service that offered files, messages, games, and chat. I sold subscriptions and accepted credit cards, which was a nice income for a 10 year old. This was before the Internet was widely adopted.
How long did you run that business for?
I ran the BBS until I graduated high school in 1998. There were a few other side projects that ended up allowing me to earn some extra income during high school as well.
So when did the idea of Vodori start?
When I graduated from Northwestern in 2002, I went to work for a private consulting company called Braun Consulting. In that role, I was able to work closely with customers in life sciences developing enterprise marketing solutions. That company was later acquired by Fair Isaac Corporation in 2005, but it was at Braun that I met my co-founders. My co-founders and I wanted to commercialize our solutions using open source, and brought the idea to senior leadership. Unfortunately, they were not interested.
We felt so strongly about the opportunity to dramatically reduce the cost and improve efficiency using open source that at the age of twenty-five, with my co-founders, we all gave our notices on the same day to create our own solution.
That’s a bold move. What gave you the confidence that it would work out?
It was a combination of a great idea to solve a significant customer/market problem with the strong belief that we could do it. We’ve always been of the mindset that anything is possible if you put in the work and have the grit to stay committed. Having gone through an acquisition, we also realized how important people are in achieving anything great.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Our culture and people have always been priority #1 for us at Vodori, and being able to build a company that brings together such amazing diverse people has been one of the most rewarding aspects of being a founder. I am lucky and fortunate to be able to work with my fellow Vodorians each day.
To learn more about Purple Arch Ventures, or investing alongside Northwestern alumni, follow the link.