Computer science alums’ 12-year-old company profitable since day one

Rustici Software, founded and co-owned by computer science alumni Mike Rustici (BS’99) and Tim Martin (BS’97), has been profitable since day one of its founding 12 years ago.

rustici siteIt also may have one of the coolest, offbeat websites. Ever.

The Franklin, Tenn.-based company serves the e-learning market and projects 50 percent revenue growth in the next 12 months, after increasing its workforce from 28 to 40 in the past year, said CEO Rustici in a VentureNashville Connections interview.

At the heart of Rustici’s booming core business is selling to the makers of learning management systems (LMS) and content producers the software they need to ensure the smooth communication and playing of educational and training content offerings spawned by a myriad of content producers worldwide.

Ensuring LMS-content interoperability is a very large undertaking – that is, without the help of Rustici Software. The company currently “owns the niche,” which exists at the intersection of LMS and content production, said Rustici, who also completed a management of technology minor in the School of Engineering. Rustici produces differing software for LMS makers and for content producers, as well as software tailored for Cloud usage.

Mike Rustici
Mike Rustici

There are only a few hundred LMS makers globally, said Rustici, who believes that while some major corporations may create their own LMS-content interoperability software solutions at great expense – and there are some other instances of “guys working in their garages” to produce tools – there are no competitive offerings generally available.

“It’s not a glamorous part of the world” and the universe of potential users is too small to excite such majors as Microsoft or Google, Rustici told VNC owner Milt Capps.

The company is exploring potential partnerships and investment to launch as a free-standing business its Jenafits employee-benefits concierge service, which now serves only Rustici Software.

Jenafits provides a wide array of non-healthcare personal services for employees, including babysitting, transportation, errand-running and much more. It has been exploring offering the service to other companies that place a premium on recruiting and retaining the best talent, he said, offering Emma and Medalogix as examples.

By mid-2015 Rustici Software is also likely to consider what he sees as the “massive opportunity to take some capital and step on the gas” to drive growth of its recently introduced Watershed LRS (learning record store).

WatershedLRS – which already has Google and AT&T as customers – is a veritable business-intelligence and analytics product offering, which has a full-fledged user-interface, rather than being produced for software developers only, as in the case of its core offerings. WatershedLRS affords enterprise users a full view of their e-learning assets, employee performance and other metrics.

Tim Martin
Tim Martin

The company regularly receives investor interest, but has no immediate plans to accept outside capital. Its emphasis in considering investors, as well as employees, is the amount of industry and professional savvy they bring to an opportunity, he said.

Rustici and co-owner Tim Martin have never driven the company with an eye toward a sale, said the CEO, adding humorously that he realizes that a “dump-truck full of cash” could change all that.

Brenda Ellis, (615) 343-6314
Twitter @VUEngineering