On May 18, Dan Shipper graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. He didn’t stick around to celebrate with friends, like most college seniors do.
Instead, he hopped on a flight to Boston to finish negotiating the sale of his startup, Firefly. After two months of talks, Firefly was acquired by Pegasystems. The price wasn’t disclosed, but since Shipper’s startup was profitable and generating six-figures, you can assume the payout was nice.
Firefly enables customer service reps to share their screens with customers and co-browse without requiring them to download any software. Its 6,000+ customers either pay $US25 to $US99 per customer service rep or a fixed monthly rate if it’s a large organisation. The team will be moving to New York to continue working on Firefly under the Pegasus brand.
There are a lot of unusual things about the Firefly team. First, there are only two people who work for the startup, 23-year-old Shipper and his even younger co-founder, Justin Meltzer. The pair largely bootstrapped Firefly, taking only $US20,000 in financing from First Round Capital’s Dorm Room Fund.
Second, both Shipper and Meltzer built Firefly while attending UPenn, and neither had to drop out of school to make it successful. Meltzer obtained his degree one year ahead of Shipper, who says he was held back in kindergarten.
“I couldn’t colour between the lines,” he joked.
While the startup was profitable, Shipper and Meltzer only paid themselves a small salary of less than $US30,000. But when you’re in college and have limited expenses, that low salary can go a long way.
“We pay ourselves a little bit of a salary but most of it goes toward expenses,” Shipper told Business Insider before the acquisition. “Lawyer bills when you run a company like ours can get high. It’s not like all of this is profit. We are pretty frugal with our money.” The pair said they weren’t spending their salaries treating themselves or friends to rounds of drinks. “Maybe when we get to seven figures in revenue we’ll do that,” Shipper said.
Shipper and Meltzer say they haven’t told their friends about their successful exit yet. “They will probably read about it on Facebook today,” Meltzer said.
But they have told their parents. “My dad said, ‘If you have to get a real job out of college, this is the way to do it,'” said Shipper.