Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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September 13, 2012 | Tom Ballard

College classmates found firm with one in Maryville, the other in California

They were college classmates at the University of California Santa Barbara and talked for years about starting a company. One moved east while the other remained in California. Fifteen years later, they are in business together with a bi-coastal company.

The eastern division of Cirruspath is led by Brandon Bruce who, until May 31, was part of the advancement and community relations team at Maryville College. He’s now Chief Operating Officer. The western division is headed by Ryan Huff who is Chief Executive Officer.

In a recent interview with, Bruce talked about the company that was founded less than a year ago. Its initial offering is something called Cirrus Insight which is described as “the first app to bring the power of Salesforce, the world’s most popular CRM, into Gmail, the world’s fastest growing business email platform.” CRM stands for customer relationship management.

“We are already the number one app on Salesforce’s App Exchange,” Bruce said. For those who use Microsoft’s Outlook as their email platform, Salesforce can be automatically linked to email so that historical customer information and emails can be readily accessed. Cirrus Insight provides the same capabilities for those who use Gmail.

“We’re delivering the deep integration between Salesforce and Google Apps that our customers want,” Huff said recently. “We’re going to release calendar sync, contact sync, and advanced custom object support over the next three months.”

Bruce said that the application costs $9 a month or $99 a year per user with a discount for multi-seat subscribers. Non-profits also are eligible for a 50 percent discount.

All an individual needs to use Cirrus Insight are Gmail and Salesforce accounts. The authorization process is managed by Salesforce.

“We’re building-up and ramping-up,” Bruce said, adding that the co-founders secured investment from a Texas based angel in the start-up in early August. “I feel good about where we are.”

One of the factors that makes Bruce so upbeat is the fact that Salesforce has three million users, something that provides “a lot of runway.” He also notes that Google is making significant inroads in the corporate or enterprise space, and Google Apps is the most commonly used platform at colleges and universities.

“We compete head-to-head with a company in San Francisco,” Bruce acknowledged. Nevertheless, Cirruspath expects to go for Series A funding in the next six to 12 months.

As the company prepares for that, Bruce is staffing-up his current one-person sales and operations division in the former Cherokee Lumber Company in Maryville. He expects to hire four people very soon. The Maryville location will house the sales, marketing and operations center, while the technical and programming sides of the company will be in California where Huff resides.

The start-up is a sponsor of next week’s “Dreamforce,” which is Salesforce’s big annual conference. Cirruspath will have an exhibit and is sponsoring a reception on September 19 in San Francisco.

Bruce and his wife moved to Maryville five years ago and clearly have bought into this is a place to be a successful entrepreneur.

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