An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Tim Ballantyne, the co-founder and CEO of Suralink, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Suralink- what problem were you trying to solve and why?
I started doing work release in high school at a local software company as a graphic designer. Initially, I enjoyed it so much, I decided not to go to college right after high school. I moved around software companies in Utah for a few years, and was working in the marketing department when my employer went out of business in the economic collapse of 2008. That’s when I decided to go back to school for accounting. After getting my master’s degree, I went into public accounting. This was the first time I had seen—in practice—the challenges of managing an audit engagement. The clunkiness and manual nature of the process frustrated me. When I moved to be the controller at another company, I noticed the same problem, and how many hours were being wasted managing audits manually.
In late 2013, I emailed a developer I had worked with when I had worked in software and reconnected with an angel investor I had worked for during college. In 2014, I received an initial angel investment, and, while my wife was pregnant with our first child, quit my job and started Suralink.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
The biggest hurdle I faced was my own risk aversion and taking the leap to actually commit to starting the company. My wife was 5 months pregnant with our first child when we started.
What does the future hold for Suralink?
Suralink’s core tenet as a business has always been to provide the best technology so CPAs can provide the best possible experiences for their clients. We started with our request list management software, and are already expanding into new technologies, like our upcoming secure email file sharing solution. However, that’s just the beginning. We’ll continue to drive innovation for CPAs, but we’ll expand into other services-based markets and geographies as well. Again, this is already evident with our recent penetration into the security and IT consulting space and our growing footprint in Canada, the UK, and Australia.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Salt Lake City?
The startup community in Salt Lake City is really active and strong. There’s a history of very successful companies and entrepreneurs that have continually reinvested in the community with time, knowledge, and money to create the ecosystem here. There are great resources available for all stages of companies and Suralink relied heavily on those resources to start. We continue to rely on them as we grow.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My best advice is to trust yourself while learning as much as possible from those who have more experience than you.