For two decades, Don Wharton has been more than just another investor. He’s been a passionate entrepreneur with an eye toward addressing not only the challenges of today but on helping people better prepare themselves for the ones tomorrow might hold, too.
17 years ago, he founded his first startup — ParetoLogic — with his brothers-in-law Elton, Adrian, and Myron Pereira. That company evolved enormously over the years, most notably in the early 2000s with the development of an anti-spyware solution that helped users remove unwanted adware and spyware from their computer systems. Sensing a shift in the technological landscape, Wharton helped develop a robust array of tools, including antivirus, parental controls, data recovery, website vulnerability detection, and even a software version update tool to help keep systems secure.
Recently, he’s turned his attention toward software-as-a-service or SaaS companies — It’s a trend that has been picking up steam over the last decade, and one that shows no signs of slowing. Rather than investing in expensive in-house solutions or dealing with enormous licensing costs, businesses can have all the software they need to function delivered in an on-demand fashion over the Internet. There’s nothing to install, configure or maintain. Organizations get access to the resources they need that are maintained by a team of professionals, creating a mutually beneficial situation for all involved.
Over the years, Wharton has been very selective of his potential business partners — a strategy that has clearly paid off. While experience, motivation, and the ability to build a team are all important qualities to look for in someone you’re working with, he believes the most crucial of all is and will always be character. What he says is what he does, and he insists on partners who feel exactly the same way.
To his credit, Wharton has always been firm in his belief that anybody can achieve the same level of success that he has — you just need to approach your own personal journey from the right perspective. One very important step he uses before investing a significant amount of time or energy into a startup involves ensuring that potential profits exceed total costs. One step he uses, which he refers to as a “shortcut,” involves seeing if his competitors have resellers, distributors, or even some type of affiliate program. If a company can pay a “reasonable commission” and still enjoy healthy profits, it’s a good sign that you’re entering into a market with a lot of potential for future success.
In the end, Don Wharton has learned a lot in his many years as an investor — but he still firmly believes the best has yet to come. Given his success up to this point, it’s exciting to think about just how true that may be.