Dean Guida Bootstrapped this Global Software Company and Now He’s Self-Funding a$50M Innovation Fund

By Grit Daily Staff Grit Daily Staff has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on August 10, 2021

Image credit: Infragistics.

Dean Guida is the 30-year entrepreneur behind the enterprise-software company Infragistics. The company currently has 250 employees, six global offices and its client roster boasts 100% of the S&P 500, including Intuit, Exxon and Morgan Stanley. Now he’s doing it again in his second act with the introduction of his $50M Innovation Fund and Lab. The centerpiece of the lab is soon-to-launch digital workplace platform Slingshot — Guida’s first foray into tech-driven team performance. 

Grit Daily: Tell us about your background and how it led you to launch Infragistics.

Dean Guida: I grew up in Miami and started working when I was eight years old. I was able to convince the maintenance man at the apartments I lived in to let me do work for him, and he paid me for it. At 16, I was saving up to buy a car, but the IBM PC came out so I decided to buy that instead. That’s how I got my start in programming — I taught myself to code and learned everything I could about it. 

I attended the University of Miami where I participated in the university’s work-study program and wrote the code for their executive payroll system. As a young college student they didn’t believe that I’d be able to do it, but I fixed the entire system and that’s when I knew I was in love with technology.

I graduated from the University of Miami with a BS and BA in Systems Analysis.

I had a knack for software development and user interface design, and when I graduated, I started working as a consultant for MetLife, IBM and on Wall Street. Two years later, I founded Infragistics. 

Grit Daily: You founded Infragistics over three decades ago. Can you tell us a bit more about Infragistics and your clients?

Dean Guida: Infragistics provides the world’s largest enterprises with tools and solutions to accelerate application design and development, and foster team collaboration. More than two million developers worldwide use our enterprise-ready UX and UI toolkits to rapidly prototype and build high-performing applications for the cloud, web, mobile and desktop. Our client roster boasts 100% of the S&P 500, including Intuit, Exxon and Morgan Stanley.

I bootstrapped Infragistics 32 years ago and have grown it into a global software company without ever accepting outside funding. We currently have 250 employees and offices in the U.S., Japan, Uruguay, Bulgaria, UK and India.

Grit Daily: Infragistics recently launched its $50M Infragistics Innovation Fund and Lab. What is the Innovation Fund and Lab?

Dean Guida: The Infragistics Innovation Fund and Lab creates freedom for internal inventors to experiment with innovations beyond our company’s core UI/UX products, without an immediate need to generate revenue. The Innovation Lab is led by Tobias Komischke, PhD, an expert in the field of Usability Engineering, AI and Machine Learning, and is located in our 74,000 square-foot New Jersey headquarters.

We’re committed to nurturing a culture of innovation at Infragistics, and the Innovation Fund gives our team members the autonomy to execute and build what they want. All Infragistics employees are encouraged to pitch ideas that leverage their collective expertise in artificial intelligence, analytics and digital product design. And we’ve developed a proprietary and structured innovation process to prototype, test and thoroughly assess new ideas for market viability. Projects that make it past internal and external reviews will be provided experimental capital to take the innovation from concept and prototype all the way to market.

Grit Daily: What are the products that the Innovation Fund is behind?

The Innovation Lab leadership team is currently responsible for two new in-market products, Indigo.Design and Reveal, and one pre-market product, Slingshot, which will be released later this year:

Indigo.Design is a complete design-to-code system that has allowed Infragistics to move outside of the enterprise and work directly with UX designers across industries  and company sizes. The platform generates production-ready code for Angular, with React, Web Components and Blazor coming soon.

Reveal is an embedded analytics and data visualization software platform that can take the world’s most complex data sets and transform them into actionable insights. Organizations that thrive on precision and continuous intelligence, such as the Japanese Railway Group and Baker Hughes, rely on Reveal to organize, understand and act on their business intelligence.

Soon-to-launch Slingshot is a digital workplace that boosts team results, no matter where they are, by giving them the ability to make better, quicker decisions with data analytics, as well as improving their workflow. Slingshot eliminates disruption caused by constant app-switching, and introduces a structured approach to project organization, task prioritization and communication in context.

Grit Daily: Let’s talk a little bit more about Slingshot and your entrance into an entirely new market.

Dean Guida: Slingshot is a culmination of on-the-ground best practices we’ve seen over three decades working with hundreds of companies. We’ve created a digital workplace that connects everyone you work with to everything they need–content, projects, analytics and chats–to boost team results.

There is no longer a ‘standard-type’ of workplace — remote teams, hybrid teams and in-person teams are now all the norm. This is where Slingshot comes in, to help workplaces today collaborate (whether they’re in the same space or not), align teams on priorities, give team members visibility into the wider team and directly enable team performance.

We’re moving into this new market competing against the biggest companies like Microsoft, as well as start-ups getting a hundred million dollars in funding. We’re in a unique position and have an opportunity in this space. We’re looking forward to helping teams reach their full potential with the launch of Slingshot later this year. 

Grit Daily: Why is it important to encourage innovation within an organization? How do you recommend other businesses do the same?

Dean Guida: An entrepreneur’s success is dependent on his or her ability to dream, invent and contribute in very tangible ways. We’ve created a workplace where people can do just that, and it’s why we’ve had many employees with us for 15-20 years. To encourage innovation within an organization you have to give employees the space to do so. This doesn’t have to be a full Innovation Lab — it can be as simple as a company-wide hackathon or a few designated hours every month to explore individual projects. Beyond giving employees the space to innovate, you have to create an environment they feel comfortable innovating in. This is a non-judgemental environment that encourages learning, is open to ideas and supportive of everyone.

By Grit Daily Staff Grit Daily Staff has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

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