ANDERSON – On his way to becoming a youth pastor, Chris Byers discovered another way, in his words, “to help the world”.
While studying finance at Anderson University, Byers became fascinated with productivity. He found himself paying attention to things that could be done faster, with less waiting, and thinking about how many daily goals could be accomplished more efficiently.
He had a job in IT services where he met Ade Olonoh, another student who shared his interest in software that would improve productivity in various office environments. The two founded their own software company, then sold it and went their separate ways for a few years before Olonoh created Formstack, a workplace productivity platform to help businesses streamline their workflows. work by scanning documents without coding. Byers, originally from Oklahoma City, became CEO of the company in 2010.
“I was like, okay, I’m going to do this for six months,” Byers said. “I’ve been there for 11 and a half years now.
Formstack recently announced a $ 425 million growth investment by Silversmith Capital Partners, a Boston-based development capital firm, and PSG, a private equity firm specializing in partnerships with software and technology services companies. of the middle market. The deal is the largest capital raising by an Indiana-based tech company in the state’s history, according to TechPoint, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that supports the state’s tech industry. .
“It didn’t sink,” Byers said. “I think what’s pretty amazing is that luckily we were able to find investors along the way who really supported our story and believed in our business in ways that others may not have. not be over the years. “
Byers said the capital investment will allow the company to pursue more aggressive global growth strategies. He said that currently around 20% of the company’s estimated $ 40 million annually in revenue is based internationally.
“We want to create a great product that helps our customers on a daily basis,” he said. “We want to know how to make sure our product supports a localized French platform or something in Germany or Japan? We want to make sure that more and more customers know who we are and solve more issues along the way. “
Byers’ approach to problem solving and increasing productivity was honed at AU, where deciding between pursuing professional ministry or a career in business has proven to be a daunting task. He remembers a teacher who explained the problem to him in a helpful way.
“One of the things that I have been pursuing from day one is this: What is the will of God in my life? Said Byers. “He really helped me figure it out, it’ll never be really clear, so just go on with the things you think you need to go on.”
Another of his professors, Terry Truitt, former dean of the AU Falls School of Business, said Byers’ ability to take the next logical step and do the next right thing has served him well.
“We always strive to develop value in our students,” said Truitt, CEO of the Flagship Enterprise Center. “At some point you hope, you expect them to then do the same with themselves – that they will increase their value and do the same for others, and that’s exactly what Chris has. made.”
Byers, who met his wife, Dana, at the AU, said his experiences on campus showed him that his faith should not be separated from his ambitions in business.
“One of those key things was understanding that we can serve God as we go about our business,” he said. “If we can keep perspective at the end of the day as we serve people, this is where some really amazing things can happen.”
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