Apu Gupta

“I want a thousand 100-person companies”: a few notes on my part of a profile on Curalate CEO Apu Gupta

Writer John Marchese profiled Apu Gupta, the CEO and cofounder of image intelligence startup Curalate, in Philadelphia magazine this month. It’s a good piece, so read it.

(Last year, Phillymag kindly profiled my cofounder and I too )

I’ve followed Apu and Curalate since their earliest days and been long eager to discuss entrepreneurship ecosystem building in the Philadelphia region — as I do in a dozen other communities in the country. (Find Technical.ly coverage of Apu and Curalate, including the offices we shared).

Business communities need to grow new, dynamic companies. In a still young Philly tech startup sector, we’ve asked the question of whether Curalate will be that region’s next big story, as part of building its scene further.

So in trying to contextualize Apu’s importance, John joined me at our annual Super Meetup this summer and asked me some questions. I wanted to share a few more thoughts on the piece.

Here are a few:

  • Apu and Curalate are doing a difficult thing. They’ve raised something like $40 million in outside financing, which represents a kind of scale that will likely lead to some outcome of meaningful size for a region’s without many big software companies. But my praise for them represents just what I said: they are a bright light in place that doesn’t yet have many at their level.
  • “I want a thousand 100-person companies.” — I mean that. Dynamism is important and so moonshot attempts at highly leveraged, billion-dollar companies are grand. I want that. But I also want a community that celebrates many small, stable and still growing companies too.
  • For profiles, tapping into time invested is a help but no salvation — The trick of profiles like this is to sniff out any lies. To do that, John taps others with a big reputation or, in my case, someone with less reason to unnecessarily boost the person being profiled. I’ve known Apu since 2011, not an insignificant amount of time and always in the context of reporting on him in some form. I don’t pretend to know him entirely but everything adds up to me. He’s marching into a competitive place (refining what his company does to avoid pitfalls). He might yet stumble but I believe he is very seriously trying to lead a company of talented people toward a very big outcome.

Here’s my portion of the piece.