Pictured above: (from the left) Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, Steve Case, Jim Zuffoletti, and Secretary of Technology Jim Duffey
CIT: Tell us about you.
Jim: I am a dedicated entrepreneur and father of four children. My wife and I live in Charlottesville Virginia where I came for school and stayed. I graduated from Darden and attended Amherst College where I studies Art and Economics. I was one of the co-founders of FreeMarkets, an early business to business internet company which we took public in December, 1999 – the height of the internet boom…just before the internet bust. I love talking about entrepreneurship with whoever will listen which brings me back to Darden a lot. I’ve been very lucky to have worked there with Professor Saras Sarasvathy and Philippe Somer who runs the entrepreneurship program.
CIT: Tell us about your current venture.
Jim: OpenQ is a global team providing social compliance solutions to protect companies regulated industries who need to go social but can’t because of regulatory risk. Our clients include global pharmaceutical manufacturers, financial services companies, medical device companies, retailers, and consumer goods companies. Our solution – SafeGuard – acts as an anti-virus like protection for social, a market which we estimate to be worth over $5B on an annual basis. SafeGuard’s policy-driven, patent pending approach addresses critical compliance needs while letting companies and their representatives directly interface with key social networks such as Twitter and Linkedin. We’ve been recognized as a product innovator by Forrester and Gartner and we’ve received awards for social compliance and social apps from the GRC 20/20 and the American Business Association (also known as a “Stevie”).
CIT: What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?
Jim: Spend your first day selling, repeat. Treat your cash like gold. Don’t be afraid to grow and change the team you have.
CIT: What events/meetup groups are essential for startups?
Jim: Entrepreneurs often have a lone wolf mindset. I’ve been privileged to have found an incredible collaborator for OpenQ, Otavio Freire, my co-founder, who also conceived of our original business idea. That collaboration has been essential . Outside of that we both appreciate any chance to get together with other entrepreneurs and share, particularly around a specific business issue.
CIT: How important is collaboration and knowledge sharing to you?
Jim: It’s core to our business and it’s the business impulse behind why our customers need to go social – to have knowledge shared and to increase transparency.
CIT: What makes your city’s tech scene unique?
Jim: I know this might sound trite, but the life of Charlottesville has a real focus on the historic downtown mall here. I’ve actually done business deals that have originated in walking on the mall. It’s a great place to happen upon people.