One Million by One Million | October 21, 2013

Building a VC-Funded Tech Company from Upstate New York: Sinclair Schuller, CEO of Apprenda (Part 1)

Sinclair Schuller is the CEO of Apprenda. With his two co-founders, Apprenda has secured $16M in venture capital from funds NEA, Ignition Partners and High Peak Ventures to deliver private and public PaaS to enterprise developersSinclair serves on multiple venture networks and speaks nationally on the topics of enterprise IT efficiency, cloud computing and next generation enterprise architectures. Before Apprenda, Sinclair held positions at Morgan Stanley, Eden Communications, and consulted for the State University of New York’s (SUNY) vast IT systems. Sinclair holds dual Bachelor of Science degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Sramana: Sinclair, let’s start with the beginning of your personal story. Where did you grow up?

Sinclair Schuller: I am a first generation American. My father is from Romania and my mother is from Italy. They immigrated to the United States in the late 1970s. My father’s family has a traditional of entrepreneurship. I was born in New York City but was raised in a very rural area in upstate New York. I had 20 people in my high school graduation class.

Growing up in a rural area is a bit different. There was not a lot of science culture to be exposed to. I had to figure things out on my own. My father was very interested in science and had started medical school but was unable to complete it for various reasons. He went on to start several businesses in Manhattan before we moved to upstate New York.

I learned a lot about science from my father as he helped me with my homework. He also taught me how to program when I was very young. When I was 7 years old I had an Apple 2e and I learned Basic. I went on to learn C++ when I was 11.

My father passed away when I was 15 and that was a big turning point for me. I no longer had him around to teach me. He also left behind a small business that my mother took over and I was able to help out with that business. I believe that running the business with my mother really developed my work ethic. I also learned the value of focus when it comes to building a company.

Sramana: Where did you go to college?

Sinclair Schuller: I went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York.

Sramana: What did you do after RPI?

Sinclair Schuller: RPI was interesting because I went in and got a computer science degree along with a math degree. I ended up getting job offers from a bunch of different companies of various sizes. A few of the job offers were focused on the math degree. I received offers from hedge funds that wanted me to do modeling. Companies that were attracted to my computer science background offered me engineering roles.

I ended up doing some internships at Morgan Stanley and after school I worked there as a software developer in enterprise IT environments. Like any enterprise IT shop I received requirements for custom application development at which point my team would go off and build an application to meet the requirements.

That environment is challenging to creativity. It is also challenging to turn around application development projects quickly. I had a lot of negative experiences working at that size of company. Those experiences eventually led to the creation of Apprenda.