Three breakthroughs led CEO to startup success

Three breakthroughs led CEO to startup success

June 3, 2007

My life has been filled with big breaks that have shaped my development as a person and entrepreneur.

pivotal role in my business and entrepreneurial development.

A tech education: ExactTarget founder Scott Dorsey
earned his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management and
received a first-hand education on the ins and outs of Silicon Valley
and growing a technology company. – Alan Petersime / The Star

Prior to living in Indianapolis, I earned my MBA from Northwestern’s
Kellogg School of Management. It was my "educational big break" that
expanded my view and sparked my interest in technology.

was fortunate to attend Kellogg during a time when the Internet fueled
an unprecedented era of technology innovation and exuberance. It was
the equivalent of having a front row seat to the "dot-com boom."
was given the opportunity to get a firsthand account of the Silicon
Valley ecosystem through meetings with leading venture-capital firms,
law firms, fledgling startups and CEOs of technology powerhouses. Two
of the most inspiring meetings were with Donna Dubinsky, the founder of
Palm, and Eric Schmidt, then-CEO of Novell and now CEO of Google.


With a young family and little money in the bank, I remember wrestling with the time and financial investment that graduate school required. Every time I entered the business school building, I was reassured by Ben Franklin’s quote inscribed there in stone: "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." Franklin was right.

My three years of studying e-business and entrepreneurship at Kellogg built my confidence and prepared me for new opportunities ahead.

Within a year, my "entrepreneurial big break" came calling when my brother-in-law Chris Baggott (married to Erin’s sister Amy) convinced me to leave the Internet incubator I worked for in Chicago and move to Indianapolis to start ExactTarget.

Chris had a strong database- marketing background, small-business experience and a tremendous vision for how e-mail marketing would revolutionalize business communications.

We added a third partner, Peter McCormick, and ExactTarget was born. Along the way, we have been fortunate to catch many big breaks, including: Bob Compton investing in our business and becoming chairman; receiving economic development support from both the city and state; and attracting nearly 250 talented and passionate people to join our team.

My personal, educational and entrepreneurial big breaks have shaped my path and enriched my life beyond what I could have imagined.


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