Written by The Business Journal Staff
Tim Goetz, Co-founder / CEO
What we do: Create online accounting and donor management software for nonprofits that makes it simple for them to manage their organization.
Education: California State University, Fresno, Licensed CPA
Family: Wife, Andi Goetz, and three creative and intelligent daughters.
How did you get involved in the technology industry, Tim?
I worked as the executive pastor for my church and helped launch several nonprofits in Fresno, but couldn’t find a simple fund accounting software built for small churches and nonprofits. I was complaining about it to a friend, Eric Hanson, and he told me I should just build it. I have always loved a challenge, so I created Aplos. I wasn’t a software developer, but since I am a CPA I knew what the system needed to do. I found someone to finance the project, teamed up with an amazing development team and used my CPA knowledge to build it.
What made you decide to focus your product suite on small nonprofits, Tim?
I believe that every church and nonprofit, no matter the size, should have the accounting software they need to easily manage their organization. Too often, software is produced for the largest 10% of organizations that have the biggest budgets, and nothing is made for the little guys. They are left making due with workarounds with small business software, but it just isn’t the right fit for their needs.
What has the response been from within the sector?
The last three years have been incredible. Last year alone, 14,000 organizations used our software and we will have even more this year. What we hear from them is that they really want to do a great job of financial stewardship for their donors and their mission — and Aplos is helping them do that.
You recently received $4 million from San Joaquin Capital, a VC firm you helped found. Can you describe the connection and process for creating the financial group, Tim?
I am the CEO of Aplos and am one of three managing partners of San Joaquin Capital. San Joaquin Capital’s first fund was the Whitney Fund, and Aplos was the sole recipient of this $4 million fund. Over the years I have regularly had people express an interest in Aplos and desire to be a part of what we were doing. When I started seriously considering raising funds for Aplos, Eric Hanson and Randel Mathias suggested launching a Central Valley VC firm. By creating this firm, we were able to raise the money in just under three months. I am really excited because these local investors are interested in supporting other tech companies like Aplos, so we are in the process of selecting the next round of companies to be included in the next fund.
The VC group has an explicit focus on the Central Valley. Why did you decide to keep things local, Tim?
Getting Aplos off the ground was tough because I was doing it on my own. I think some solid advice in those days would have saved me a lot of time, energy, and money. If we are able to share our knowledge, connect each other to trusted resources and support new tech companies, I think it is possible for the Fresno tech sector to grow quickly and all of the tech companies will benefit.
Has that been a challenge at all?
The best things always are.
Is there a big need for this kind of access to venture capitals within the Central Valley tech scene?
Aplos was successful in those tough early days because I was lucky enough to have relationships with someone who was willing to put his money behind me, but not everyone has that type of person on speed dial. For a tech company to grow, they need a solid business plan, a talented team and funding to take that product to market and start growing. Fresno has the talented people, the ideas, opportunities for training — and now we have the access to funding.
What has been the response from the local industry?
We are already hearing from entrepreneurs who have been creating products that they believe in and are in the process of finding the ones that need capital to pour on the rocket fuel. It takes a lot of work to find the right projects that are ready and positioned to grow.
What has been your proudest accomplishment, Tim?
I am exceptionally proud of the team of creative and dynamic people we have at Aplos. They care deeply about our customers and are a ton of fun to work with on a daily basis. Building a great team is really hard, so it is incredibly rewarding that we have been so successful in this area.
What professional goals would you still like to accomplish, Tim?
I would love to help new tech companies in Fresno find their footing and become successful. There is such a wealth of knowledge and talent here that I know it is possible. I would love to look back in ten years and say I played a part in that.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it, Tim?
My first job was at Ace Hardware. I learned how to help people and how to work hard. Plus, I loved hearing about the projects that customers were working on and helping them come up with solutions.
Who has been a mentor for you and what did you learn from him/her?
I wouldn’t be where I am today without Eric Hanson. He offered me the seed money to chase one of my ideas, but more than that he really believed in me and shared my vision. At every step, Eric seems to believe in me before I really do and he lets me learn things on my own, even though his money is at risk. I feel privileged that Eric chose to invest in me and I hope to be able to do the same for others.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Tim?
I have grilling down to a science and am always finding a new cut of meat to master.