We’re letting people do stuff in a more visual and graphic way.
“I was the first sucker to put money into Lucid,” says Karl Sun, Lucid Software CEO. It was an investment Sun, who had spent seven years working at Google, decided to make after meeting Ben Dilts and seeing the product he had single-handedly engineered. It was a product Sun believed was greatly needed in an industry saturated in text-based collaboration tools but lacking in visual collaboration tools. “I saw the power of web-based collaborations,” Sun says of his time at Google, which included starting the Google China office. “I was pretty amazed at what a smooth looking and pleasant user experience [Lucid] was.” That amazement led Sun to leave Google and join Lucid as CEO. Sun went without a salary for an entire year while Dilts and a developer worked full time on the product and finished school. Now Sun is one of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalists in the Utah region.
The software created by Dilts and enhanced by Sun enables visual collaboration in a way that has never been seen before. “We’re letting people do stuff in a more visual and graphic way,” Sun says. The software allows users to diagram businesses processes, demonstrate processes to clients, and draw connections between complicated ideas. “We are striving to help people work more effectively,” Sun says.
Sun and a small handful of friends and family were the company’s first investors, and a few days after the first funding round Lucidchart was listed in the first wave of apps for the Google Apps Marketplace. The company has only taken on a modest amount of funding since, and has turned into a profitable company with over 100 employees.
Sun describes his Entrepreneur of the Year nomination as “less a reflection on me and what I’ve done and more what we’ve been able to accomplish as a company.” Though I believe, if may editorialize here, that Sun isn’t giving himself enough credit for building that team. Finding talented people who are willing to take the risk of working for a startup is no easy task, and Sun managed to find the right people early in the company’s history. “I’ve had the fortune of working at a lot of great companies and organizations,” Sun says. “I think the team here is as good as any I’ve ever worked with.”
Sun and the other Entrepreneur of the Year finalists will be recognized at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Gala Saturday, June 4, at the Grand America Hotel. Tickets are available here.