EPISODE 73

What’s in a Name with Jeff Durso

Today we are talking with Jeff Durso, the co-founder of Blitzr, a one-on-one conversations platform. Graduating from MIT just as the internet was being created, Jeff benefited greatly from the dot-com boom. With an exit to the tune of $10million, he was just getting started. Being a part of several startups, Jeff has plenty of knowledge to share and does so through a Startup Mastermind group.

Down The Rabbit Hole

It was the late 70s, early 80s, and arcades were all the rage. Growing up, Jeff remembers seeing Pong when he was little and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. Soon after, his family got an Atari, and Jeff was thrilled every time a new game came out. In 1981, Jeff’s dad started thinking about computerizing his office and began looking into the Apple 2, a cutting edge 8-bit computer at the time. At just 9 years old, Jeff was intrigued by the technology and went down the rabbit hole. He got it in his head that he could make his own video games, and he started brainstorming. When Jeff’s dad brought the computer home, Jeff became obsessed with it. It was a time when average people were starting video game companies from their kitchen table. Jeff desperately wanted to do that.

The Beginnings Of The Internet

Hearing about MIT, Jeff knew he had to attend. In his mind, computers and business went hand in hand. Jeff followed through with his dream and graduated MIT just as the internet was becoming a thing. Jeff knew then that it was inevitable that he would start a software company. Every weekend, Jeff and his brother would brainstorm ideas about what they could build on the web that would turn into something huge. Finally, they decided to start a consulting company and help others to design their web ideas. That was the beginning of the Open Enterprise Corporation. Things took off from there, and they began building financial service applications.

A Growing Team

The 3-man company tracked what it needed to make daily to survive, but that wasn’t very inspirational. Once they switched to focusing on where they could take the company, they realized they needed more people on board. The group started hiring friends they’d gone to school with, one at a time, until the team reached 15 people. As they passed the $2million per year run rate, they realized they needed to start raising venture capital.

A Day To Remember

While trying to raise funds, Jeff learned of another company in their space that shared similar values and strategies. The company was like them, only further along. They started talking casually with the other company with no intention of selling. It wasn’t until they realized that they couldn’t grow their capacity fast enough that they started talking about selling to a larger company to gain a bigger team. On March 10, 2000, they were set to pitch their company. Jeff knows the date well, as it was when the Nasdaq peaked on the dot-com boom. They walked out of that meeting with a $10million deal. Jeff says it was surreal and a big transition. They literally went from charging payroll to their credit cards, to driving their dream cars almost overnight.

What Jeff’s Working On Now

Jeff’s main focus is his company Blitzr, a speed networking platform. It was the answer to the problem of Zoom fatigue after the pandemic hit. If you’re curious to know more about it, visit www.blitzr.com. In addition to that, Jeff is working on building a community of entrepreneurs through his Startup Mastermind group.

YOUR HOST

Steve McGarry

An entrepreneur, content creator, and investor based in sunny Tampa, Florida. In 2015, while living in San Francisco, Steve sold his first fintech startup LendLayer to Max Levchin’s (founder of PayPal) consumer finance company Affirm.