By Lee Schafer
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Maybe nothing fuels entrepreneurship quite like anger.
Mark Lazarchic sure doesn’t bother masking the fact that anger is driving him. “I have the words ‘anger is a gift’ tattooed on the middle of my back.”
And he’s not kidding.
So clearly Lazarchic isn’t a typical software company CEO, not even a typical entrepreneur. His anger doesn’t come from an old grievance with a former employer, the kind of start-up story you may hear from other founders.
His company, called Otterology, makes inexpensive inventory management software for the smallest of small businesses.
What really gets him fired up, he said, is that “every big company in the world has a competitive advantage because they are the only ones that can afford stuff like this.”
Not only is software made for bigger companies too costly for smaller ones, it’s so hard to use, too, Lazarchic says. And he doesn’t show much respect for the backbone bookkeeping program of the small-business market, QuickBooks. According to him, “it’s overbuilt, it’s overcomplicated, and it’s a pain … to even figure out how to use.”
It probably comes as no surprise that Lazarchic is not a software entrepreneur by skill, experience or even interest. More than anything, he’s Otterology’s target customer, the kind of small-business owner that software companies couldn’t figure out how to serve profitably so routinely ignored.
His other businesses are about as far from the information technology sector as one can get, including owning what he thinks is the largest retailer of fireworks in the state.
To call Lazarchic’s Renaissance Fireworks seasonal is an understatement: 80 percent of the sales typically come in three business days. It doesn’t have stores but tents, as many as 46 one year. They pop up in parking lots just in time for holidays such as July 4th.