Cozi Founder Talks About Dell Deal, a Great Mentor, and Why He Had to Start a Company

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Cozi’s business, Cape adds, “They account for almost half of our signups right now. That’s across all Dell machines.”

—On software distribution models. “Most consumer websites grow virally,” Cape says. “There has been none of that for Cozi so far. We’ve been so busy doing work for our partners [like Dell and Gannett]. Only earlier this year have we started to focus on the next big feature area—sharing is really important.”

—On whether entrepreneurs are born or made: “I have entrepreneurialism flowing in my blood,” he says, noting that his brother, father, and uncle all started their own companies. “I always knew I wanted to start my own business. I came to Microsoft for an internship and fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. I thought I’d stay at Microsoft for three years, but one thing led to another. Finally in 2001-2002, I needed to turn my energy towards doing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life—starting my own business.”

—On finding the killer idea vs. the killer team: “For better or worse, I decided to focus first on who I wanted to start the company with. In early 2004, I reached out to Jan Miksovsky at Microsoft [now Cozi’s chief product officer]. Then we did research into what to do. We narrowed it down to delivering simple experiences with software throughout the home. We wanted to go build technology for the home, but we didn’t know what we were going to do. We formed in March 2005 without a clear idea of the first product. It took three months to figure out we would be fanatically focused on families. We wanted to build technology that would be integrated into home life.”

—On the importance of mentors: “I continue to learn modesty from Jeremy,” Cape says, referring to Jeremy Jaech, a board member of Cozi, and the founder of Aldus, Visio, and Trumba (and now CEO of Verdiem). “He is so modest, down to earth, thoughtful, he’s phenomenal. For someone with that degree of success to be that modest is amazing. He has this great way of pointing out the obvious. He’s so good at being outside, and taking a fresh look at a tough problem I’m faced with. Usually it’s personal dynamics—a partner debate I’m having around deal terms when negotiating with a deal partner, or a problem with feature strategy direction. He always asks enough fresh questions that it enables me to think about the problem in a completely different way.”

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] Follow @gthuang

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  • Perhaps I am missing something, but I fail to see how Cozi is any different than any of the integrated web based services that Google offers (Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Chat, Maps, PIcasa Web etc ) for FREE!

  • Cheryl

    The difference is that this is designed specifically for managing a family, like multiple kids with multiple activities and being able to color code things and share that same view with your spouse! The Google tools are great, but this is much more specific and very helpful!