ProjectSHED (A)

By Garth Saloner, Janet Feldstein
2002 | Case No. E116A

Scott Brady, Dave Leeds, Harpinder “Harpi” Singh Madan, and Eric Botto met at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) at the height of the dot-com boom. Harpi and Dave first met in 1998 as first-year students in Stanford’s MBA program. Both came from operating backgrounds: Harpi was most recently in product development at Oracle and Dave had come to Stanford from Lexmark, where he led strategic planning for Lexmark’s most profitable business division. Scott and Eric met a year later in Stanford’s year-long Sloan Fellowship program for experienced executives and managers. Scott had been a co-founder and CTO at two publicly traded software companies – Clarus and SQL Financials. Eric had undergraduate and master’s degrees from Stanford in Electrical Engineering and had significant experience leading large engineering teams at Quantum Corporation and HP Labs. The four came together as a team during their final quarter at the GSB in the entrepreneurship class “Formation of New Ventures” (Exhibit 1: Founder Profiles). Each of the four had arrived in Silicon Valley at different times, for different reasons, with different backgrounds; as they approached graduation, however, all were focused on a common goal of building a substantial and unique business. It was spring 2000, and the market’s appetite for entrepreneurship had changed. The NASDAQ had lost substantial value as the tech “bubble” burst, venture capital was drying up, and fewer graduates were pursuing start-up opportunities. Nonetheless, each of the founders remained committed to pursuing an entrepreneurial venture and focused on finding the right opportunity. Each had a desire, as Harpi put it, “to be part of something meaningful, something that reflected our values.”

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