Larry Augustin, CEO, SugarCRM

Larry Augustin, CEO, SugarCRM


When Larry Augustin was growing up, he spent his summers on the family farm fixing equipment. He gained a work ethic that has helped form his approach in business: “Walk in and fix things” — to identify problems and solve them.

Since he began as CEO in 2009, Augustin used this approach to transform the company from one that had a broken sales culture and was not growing as quickly as expected to one with a transformative strategy and proven growth.

Augustin soon found that people kept telling him that they were interested in SugarCRM software for their business, but they had called and hadn’t received a response. He felt there was a culture of order-taking rather than active selling, so to verify this, he hired 12 “secret shoppers.” All secret shoppers were told they were interested in buying and then inquired about SugarCRM. Only two of the secret shoppers succeeded in buying; the rest never got called back.

Based on these results, Augustin focused the sales organization on customer response and created the culture of educating prospective buyers about why they should buy SugarCRM. Last year was the company’s best year yet. It saw twice the number of employees, the first acquisition, becoming cash-flow positive and experienced growth in billings by more than 65 percent.

Augustin is concerned about whether he his hiring the right people, training them and setting them up to be successful. He recognizes that one of the biggest challenges of managing people is aligning their interests and talents with the correct position. In that vein, he has assembled an executive team that knows how he thinks and shares his attitude so that the team and the new employee are all on the same page.