buuteeq is a Seattle based startup that makes the world's first Cloud Digital Marketing System (DMS) for hotels and lodging properties. Since officially launching the Cloud DMS product in January of 2011, buuteeq has added thousands of properties to their system across nearly 40 countries worldwide. buuteeq was founded by Forest Key, Adam Brownstein, and Brian Saab who formerly worked together at Microsoft Corporation as marketing and business development executives for various web technology and user experience platform product groups. The management team possesses a bevy of both tech and user experience expertise from career stints with (among others) Sony Corporation, Macromedia, Oveture/Yahoo!, and Industrial Light & Magic. buuteeq was officially founded in February 2010, after a handshake between the founders over a lunch from Dick's Hamburgers, and has since raised over $17 million USD of capital to drive innovation and growth. In addition to the headquarters in Seattle Washington, buuteeq's product engineering and customer care teams operate in Palo Alto, California and Santiago, Chile.
CEO Forest Key takes you on a tour of buuteeq's Seattle office.
CEO Forest Key takes you on a tour of buuteeq's Santiago Chile office.
Forest Key – CEO / Founder
Forest learned the term "making the connection" from a Tim Cahill travel story on spelunking (the sport of cave exploration)--the objective: never exit a cave from the same opening that one enters. Fascinated by this credo, Forest never backtracks when he travels and has stumbled upon countless magical travel moments in the many countries he has visited and in his overseas expat living tenures in China, Spain, and Chile. Forest was a Sr. Director in the Microsoft Server & Tools Division, and later the GM of Business Development for Asia based in Beijing, China, where he drove adoption of Microsoft user experience and web technologies with the region's top consumer websites and digital agencies. As a product manager at Macromedia he led technology innovations in the Flash product line that have revolutionized web video. Forest formerly worked in the visual effects and CGI industry, as both a founder/CEO of successful software startup Puffin Designs, and adding glamour to his geek credibility, as visual effects editor/animator at George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic. He is fluent in Spanish and can negotiate to buy cheap consumer goods in Mandarin. He holds a BA in History from UCLA.
Adam Brownstein – VP Sales / Founder
In business as on vacation, Adam enjoys making connections when traveling. For him, discovering a great boutique hotel is like making a new friend: it has a personality and a soul, and you can establish a lifelong bond with it. Traveling allows him to connect with the exotic in a meaningful way. Adam, a global innovator and sales leader with 15 years of experience in pioneering companies, excels in connecting inventive products with customers and finding new markets. He has been successful selling on every continent except Antarctica. As Director of Business Development in the Microsoft Entertainment and Devices Division, Adam launched Microsoft Surface, a revolutionary touch-enabled tabletop interface into 20 global regions across the hospitality market. With Sony Corporation he held various positions in the USA, Japan, and Mexico where as Director of the Entertainment division he introduced the PSP and PS2 video game lines to millions of ecstatic Spanish-speaking gamers. Adam has lived extensively in Japan, Spain, and Mexico and is fluent in Japanese & Spanish. He holds a BA in History from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Brian Saab – CMO / Founder
When it comes to great travel experiences, Brian has only two key criteria: go someplace unfamiliar and show up without a plan. He believes there’s something intoxicating about being out of your element while having the benefit of time to explore without schedules, reminders, or deadlines. It’s this passion for exploring “the new” that has pushed Brian to the apex of emerging software technologies throughout his career. Most recently, Brian was the CEO of a multi-national digital design agency specializing in helping global brands produce breakout mobile and web apps. During his tenure at Microsoft, Brian worked with Forest in the Server & Tools division, serving as the Business Manager for Silverlight as well as the Lead Product Marketer for the Expression family of designer tools. Prior to joining Microsoft, he managed teams with DHL Worldwide, and probably helped save lives as Lead Project Manager for a web startup that connected medical experts in developed countries with practitioners and patients in remote locations worldwide. Brian holds an undergraduate degree in Biology and holds two master degrees: an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and a M.S. in Information Systems from the University of North Texas.
Cameron Steele – COO
Cameron Steele relishes an all-sensory-consuming travel experience in Burma: crawling through the jungle, hearing the hailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi give a speech from house arrest, riding night trains and walking along the Bagan Pagodas barefoot in complete silence. Cameron brings this commitment, passion and concentration to buuteeq along with multi-disciplinary experience from Silicon-Valley as venture capitalist, operating executive, and adviser. He worked as a VC partner with San Francisco Equity Partners, and served as CFO and VP of corporate development for their portfolio company Penguin Computing. Cameron also served as managing director/equity research analyst with RBC Capital Markets, and held marketing and finance/planning roles at Verity Software and Oracle, respectively. Cameron “habla un poquito Español”, and holds an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth and a BA in Political Science from Stanford.
Cynthia Mason – VP Global HR & Talent
Cynthia is passionate when it comes to travel and her thoughts often drift to the next magical spot she will discover. Over the years she has traveled to many places but when her feet first landed in Italy, it was instant Amore! Her adventures in Capri, Sorrento, Portifino, Naples, Sienna, Florence, Venice and Rome…. led to mad cooking skills, a love for wine and an ever growing shoe collection. A big gratzie to those amazing Italians! Cynthia also has an unparalleled passion for succeeding, with over 15 years perfecting HR and recruiting practices, specializing in the technology space for SF, Seattle and the EU. She joined her first start-up, Corillian in 1999 during the dotcom craze and has been hooked ever since. After moving to Seattle, in 2005 she took a role heading up the recruiting for the games division within RealNetworks. She led the charge for massive growth in Seattle as well as the EU, spending the majority of a 6-month time period working in M&A based out of Salzburg, Austria. Upon her return she dove back into the start-up community and took over as Director of HR & Recruiting with Pelago, and most recently as Head of HR & Recruiting with Livemocha.
Karim Meghji – Chief Product Officer & VP of Engineering
Karim’s best travel experiences include one part adventure, one part cultural engagement and one part serendipitous encounter…Karim’s best professional experiences usually share many of the same characteristics. Karim is a passionate leader with deep experience building products and businesses in the consumer software and online service areas. Most recently, as Vice President of Products and Engineering at Yapta, Karim successfully led the company’s pivot from B2C to B2B culminating with the launch of FareIQ – Intelligent Price Tracking for Corporations. Prior to Yapta, Karim founded and bootstrapped his own startup, HelpHive, helping homeowners find trusted recommendations of local home service professionals. Before taking the entrepreneurial leap, Karim spent 10 years at Real Networks where he served as a key member of the executive team. Accomplishments at RealNetworks included doubling Rhapsody music subscriptions, building an online premium video service with 1M subscribers, growing Real’s advertising to $30M+ per year, and developing partnerships with Sandisk, BestBuy, Google, Starz!, CNN, ABC News, the NFL, MLB, Rolling Stone and others. Early in his career, Karim was with Symantec Corporation and led development efforts for a number of productivity applications, including ACT! and Q&A. Karim holds a BS in Computer Science from San Jose State University.
Dennis Wu – CTO
Since Dennis Wu blazes trails in technical achievement, when he’s on vacation he prefers to relax and have fun with his family. He loves a hotel that works hard on the back-end to manifest the best of its location and surroundings so he can just kick back and enjoy. Dennis is the very model of a modern startup CTO: a seasoned Silicon Valley technology leader with fresh and creative ways of approaching problems using cutting-edge digital developments. He has 18 years of experience in online advertising/marketing, search, enterprise systems, and database architecture. As the co-founder and CTO of Evincii, he built killer online/mobile applications and a buzzed-about pay-per-performance advertising network for major consumer goods companies. Before that, he combined his talents in engineering, internet architecture and managerial skill to first develop knowledge-based data integration technology for Cadabra, then engineered several key advertising systems for Overture and later Yahoo! Dennis received his Masters degree from Stanford University and Bachelors degree from National Taiwan University, both in Computer Science. He is a bilingual Mandarin/English speaker.
Bryan Estep – VP International
Bryan’s first time on an airplane was a trip from Seattle to Brazil for a year as an exchange student. He subsequently ventured on an around the world backpacking trip paid for by delivering FedEx packages and eventually wrote three travel books including Liquid Mexico, a travelogue on tequila. An early promoter of online travel in international markets started with a stint at Site59, which was then acquired by Travelocity. There he led a team that built Travelocity’s merchant hotel program in Latin America and Asia-Pac from scratch, and profitably launched and ran three Latin America B2C sites. Estep is fluent in Spanish, has a keen comprehension of Portuguese in Brazilian music, and is a graduate of the University of Washington and Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Arnout Groen – GM EMEA
Arnout was 6 years old the first time he boarded a flight across the Atlantic by himself. From that point forward he was hooked on the feeling of adventure that travel had to offer. His career in technology began as a traveling sales engineer for RasterOps EMEA. From there he spent a few too many years working inside a cubicle in Silicon Valley. In spite of the cubicle he was excited to establish a career in Product Management for Truevision. The geek inside thrived on being in the Valley and the excitement product development had to offer. Arnout left his cubical to join Puffin Designs as Director of Business Development, where he traveled throughout EMEA and built a solid international presence for the company. After Puffin Designs came Pinnacle Systems where he continued his journey as Director of Business Development. During a break from his career in technology Arnout picked up a camera and made his best effort at being a professional photographer. The results of which can be seen @ arnoutgroen.com. Privately Arnout works hard to balance career and family with an occasional journey to seek out the perfect wave or snow-powder run. He holds an MBA in international business from Webster University.
Board of Directors
Steve Singh -CEO & Chairman at Concur Inc.
S. Steven Singh has served as Concur's Chief Executive Officer since 1996 and as a director since 1993, including service as Chairman of the Board of Directors since September 1999. From 1993 to 1996, Mr. Singh was General Manager of the Contact Management Division at Symantec Corporation, an international technology firm focused on protecting information and computer systems. Mr. Singh serves as Chairman of the NBTA Foundation Board, and serves on the boards of directors for AdReady and Washington Roundtable. S. Steven Singh and Rajeev Singh are brothers.
Tim Porter -Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group
Tim Porter is a Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group. He currently serves on the boards of Appature, Context Relevant, Mobilisafe, and AppFog, and is a board observer for Apptio, ExtraHop Networks, Impinj, Skytap, Smartsheet, Tier3, and Z2Live. Tim is also a member of the three-person Investment Committee for the Alliance of Angels Seed Fund. Prior to joining Madrona in 2006, he was a key member of Microsoft’s Corporate Development group, where he shared responsibilities for sourcing, structuring, and negotiating Microsoft’s acquisitions, strategic investments and joint ventures. While at Microsoft, Tim focused on enterprise software, security, and mobile and closed 14 transactions for over $850 million. Tim received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Mike Galgon is a Seattle-based entrepreneur and technology investor. Mike co-founded aQuantive in 1997, serving as its president, Chief Technology Officer, and Chief Strategy Officer until its acquisition by Microsoft in 2007. After the acquisition, Galgon served as CVP, Advertising Strategy for Microsoft through early 2009. He has remained active with the next generation of digital marketing companies, serving on the boards of Market Leader (NASDAQ: LEDR), Krux Digital, Energy Savvy, Buddy TV, and buuteeq. Beyond digital marketing, Galgon is an active social investor, predominantly through Global Partnerships a Latin America-focused microfinance organization. Prior to founding aQuantive, Mike served as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1990 to 1994 and spent one year as a full-time volunteer with Volunteers in Service to America.
Cristian Shea CEO & Chairman at Equitas Capital
Cristian is the CEO and Chairman of Equitas Capital, an international investment firm based in Santiago, Chile, specializing in venture capital and early stage private equity for companies in IT services, sustainable conservation, clean technologies, and sciences. He sits on the board of several privately held companies and is chairman of Latinvalley, eClass and Equitas Management Partners. An advisor to international venture capital funds and multi-national investors, Cristian is currently the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees of LASPAU (Harvard University affiliate). He maintains partnership at the law firm Eyzaguirre & Cia. Cristian graduated from Yale Law School in 1998 (LL.M.) and has been admitted to practice law in New York and in Chile.
Charles brings over 20 years of technology business experience with a strong focus on cloud services and platforms. Recently, he was vice president of product management for Mozy, a cloud backup service. Previously, Charles held a variety of senior leadership marketing, business and strategy roles at Microsoft, and as general manager of Platform Strategy, he marshaled the company’s broad developer ecosystem strategy and helped rebuild the company’s developer franchise for the Internet era with .NET. He also worked on Flight Simulator, Windows 95 and Internet Explorer versions 3 and 4.
Sanjay is an entrepreneur and angel investor based in Chennai, India. Previously, Sanjay was a Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Corporation. Sanjay holds board and advisor positions at several privately held companies. He is on the Executive Board of the MIT Sloan School for the Europe, Middle East, South Asia and Africa Region. Sanjay has a master's degree in engineering from MIT, a master's degree in management from the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Anna University in Chennai, India.
Barbara is the General Manager of the Garden Court Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel in downtown Palo Alto. For the past eleven years in this role, Barbara has participated in the hospitality industry’s evolution: reinventing the way it does business without changing its ultimate product. Her knowledge and wisdom in successful hotel business operations, marketing, and her attention to exceeding customer’s expectations and delighting guests make her an important mentor to the buuteeq management team.
Bill has over thirty five years of business experience across a wide range of industries and markets which include digital marketing, technology systems, distribution, communications, capital equipment, and services. Bill works with teams as a mentor/coach to navigate the intricacies of the revenue generation process. Most recently as Senior Vice President of aQuantive he led Sales & Client Services at Atlas before moving to Razorfish to focus on business development for one of the world’s largest interactive agencies.
Steven is the Managing Partner of Cavehill Capital LLC which invests in early and growth stage media companies. Steven has served as a sr. strategic executive for travel and consumer technology companies including Hewlett-Packard, Expedia, AOL, Maple Leaf Foods. He started his career as a strategic management consulting at Bain & Company. He works with buuteeq across many of his expertise domains including sales & marketing, business and product development, and corporate development.
Joss is one of the leading experts on international travel and acts as a key strategic advisor to buuteeq on the Hospitality industry. His professional career spans acting as a Professional Tour Guide for the likes of Bill Gates and President Jimmy Carter, serving as an Analyst for Bear Stearns, working as a management consultant with Bain & Company, and postings in several executive management positions with A&K. Most recently, he took up a new challenge as Group CEO of &Beyond which is the leading luxury experiential adventure travel business across Africa and India. Joss is the consummate adventurer whose passions include kite-surfing, motorbikes, horses and long overland expeditions including driving from London to Nairobi through the Middle East and North Africa and from Nairobi to Cape Town.
Madrona has been investing in early-stage technology companies in the Pacific Northwest since 1995 and has been privileged to play a role in some of the region's most successful technology ventures. The firm invests predominately in seed and Series A rounds across the information technology spectrum including consumer Internet, commercial software and services, digital media and advertising, networking and cloud computing, and mobile. Madrona manages nearly $1 billion and was an early investor in companies such as Amazon.com, Farecast.com, Isilon Systems, Sharebuilder, and World Wide Packets.
Concur is a leading provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions. Concur's easy-to-use Web-based and mobile solutions help companies and their employees control costs and save time. Concur Connect is the platform that enables the entire travel and expense ecosystem of customers, suppliers, and developers to access and extend Concur's T&E cloud. Concur's systems adapt to individual employee preferences and scale to meet the needs of companies from small to large.
Clark is Chairman of Razorfish, one of the world's leading digital marketing and technology firms serving global Fortune 1000 clients, including Nike, Microsoft, Best Buy, Intel, Mercedes, JCPenney, and Dell. Follow him on twitter @clarkkokich
Equitas Capital is an international investment firm specialized in venture capital and early stage private equity. The firm is based in Santiago, Chile where it manages multiple funds in the fields of IT services, sustainable conservation, clean technologies, and sciences, technologies and innovation applied to natural resources.
For more than two decades, The Benaroya Company has been among the region's leading private venture capital firms. We enter into active relationships with the companies we fund — vital, promising businesses that demonstrate bold vision, great market potential, and strong financial discipline.
Auromatrix is one of the major players in the hospitality industry in India. The company owns and operates hospitality establishments and its core offerings are in the area of hotel & resort development, management and consultancy. In the past, Auromatrix partnered with Days Inn Worldwide as their Master Franchisee for India and has operated all the Sterling resort properties. Current hospitality portfolio includes Sparsa Resorts, a chain of eco-sensitive resorts; Aloft hotels, upscale business hotels in 5 locations pan India; Stargate, a chain of food & beverage outlets.
Darin Brown is currently the President of Europe for Crispin Porter and Bogusky (CP+B), one of the world's most recognized and awarded advertising and digital marketing agencies with clients that include Microsoft, American Express, Domino's Pizza and Best Buy. Prior to CP+B Darin served in multiple leadership roles over the last 13 years for the digital agency known as Razorfish, leading clients like Microsoft, Levi Strauss, Visa, adidas, and Coors Brewing; driving their corporate and client strategy, and helping manage acquired businesses in Europe.
Geoff is an active angel investor in the region, and has invested in over 60 Pacific Northwest technology companies during the last decade. Several of those companies have had successful exits, notably Isilon Systems (acquired by EMC), drugstore.com (acquired by Walgreens), SparkBuy (acquired by Google), World Wide Packets (acquired by Ciena), The Coffee Equipment Company (acquired by Starbucks) and Shelfari (acquired by Amazon). A current venture partner with Voyager Capital and a former venture partner with Madrona Venture Group, Seattle-based venture capital firms, Geoff is a current investor in over 40 private companies and is a current board member of six companies, including Big Fish Games, Liquid Planner, Dashwire, Bonanza, Judy's Book and Nirvaha, and is a board observer for several others. Geoff is also a long-time member and vice chairman of the Alliance of Angels, the largest angel investor organization in the Pacific Northwest.
John was a founder of Marchex in 2003 and now serves as its executive vice chairman. He previously served as Marchex's President and COO. Prior to Marchex, John was a founder of Go2Net and served in various roles at the company including President, COO and as a member of its board of directors. John is also an investor and board member with several private companies in North America, including several technology companies.
Peter is founder and Managing Partner of Richmond Global, a 12 year old venture capital firm specializing in technology and communications in the U.S. and leading emerging markets. As a social entrepreneur, Mr. Kellner co-founded Endeavor in 1997, a pioneering organization promoting entrepreneurship and job creation in emerging markets. Mr. Kellner is on the board of Obopay, Inc., AdChina, Inc., and YoBrand, Inc., and the non-profit boards of Endeavor and Ashoka Youth Venture.
Why the name buuteeq??
Since you're curious, here's the story: the name "buuteeq" was coined in a hotel room in Beijing by the founders who were urgently in search of a better name for the company which had been loosely known as "Hanbao Software" (which means "hamburger software" in Chinese), itself coined over a big bowl of hummus at the Bite a Pita restaurant's original location in Beijing's Laitai Huahui Shichang (the restaurant has since moved to Sanlitun, check them out?best middle eastern food in Beijing!) . As an online SaaS software service company our primary concern was of course to have .com URL, and the naming strategies available to us and other entrepreneurs in Feb of 2010 were (a) misspell a word using the wrong consonants or vowels, or (b) combine two nouns that don't normally go together into a new word amalgam. We played with lots of options but in the end settled on the spirit of "boutiquedness", as it best captures the aspirational qualities of both our customers (independent hotels) and their guests (travellers looking for the "boutique hotel" experience). As we set off to misspell the French word "boutique", we were amazed at how many permutations were already taken (some middle eastern names are similarly spelled, so several were taken for personal blogs). Among those considered: butik, buutik, butek, buutek, buuteek, bootiq, bootek, booteek, etc. When we saw "buuteeq" written out, we were drawn to the symmetry of the "b" and "q" (inverted shapes), of the balance of double vowel "uu" and "ee", and when we did some impromptu focus group testing (we asked some friends) we were pleasantly surprised to find that there was a near 100% accurate pickup of the "boutique" pronunciation. We bought the domain on GoDaddy and we were off to the races. Our customers have been very complimentary and both they and we love being able to say "I love working with buuteeq (pronounced "boutique")!" Sarah Lacy and Paul Carr over at TechCrunch were the first to tell us that they *hate* the name (thankfully, they expressed love for our business plan and product offering!)?and that's a tradeoff we can accept for the time being. Maybe someday we will have the money to dislodge the guys that are domain squatting on the proper French spelling "boutique", and for the time being we've also set up a redirect for www.boutiquedms.com" so that we have an easier to spell variation for via voice transcribing. Alas, for now we'll settle for being the awesome company that our customers love that delights hotel guests with the cool name that is really hard to spell buuteeq!