David Tedesco, 30, never thought about becoming a successful business entrepreneur.
"My heart and mind was always focused on computers, not money," said Tedesco, CEO of Intrasight, a computer-based marketing firm in Scottsdale.
Yet, today the Chicago-area native is earning more than $10 million annually from his four-year-old company that provides marketing information gathered through highlysophisticated computer technology he created.
Tedesco’s success story can be traced to his childhood when his father, Richard Tedesco, decided to buy a computer for the family home in St. Charles, Ill., about 40 miles from Chicago.
His son, then a first-grader, became fascinated with the new device.
By the time he was 14, the young teen began ordering parts from China and Japan through computer magazines and other sources and assembling and selling computers. He called his home-based company, Lightening Software.
"I was earning about $8,000-a-month," he said.
Tedesco graduated from St. Charles High School, then in 1994 enrolled at Iowa State University and began studying computer science and engineering. But his scholastic interest didn’t last long.
"After about six months, I dropped out of college, moved to Tempe, and started a software company called Rhino Productions," Tedesco said. "I felt, at the time, school was behind me. I wanted to move ahead in the world of technology."
His small software company began with five employees, including himself, and gradually expanded to attract customers such as America West Airlines and the Phoenix Coyotes.
Tedesco briefly attended Arizona State University where he studied physics, but left before receiving a degree.
"I was too involved in starting computer-based companies to worry about college," said Tedesco, who today, despite his lack of a college degree, is a member of a special business executives organization that meets regularly at Harvard University.
But the computer-whiz, at age 21, saw something beyond what, at the time, was popular in the world of technology.
"I felt creating software, rather than Web sites, was the future," he said.
Tedesco started a new firm, TeraSoft, which provided software that gathered marketing information, especially for hotels and travel companies. It was eventually purchased from Tedesco by Lebensart Global, a Germany-based computer firm, for more than $10 million.
The then-25-year-old, who moved to Scottsdale, joined forces with Jeff Walters, then 40, a marketing expert and on May 31, 2001, formed Intrasight, combining Tedesco’s technology skills and Walters’ marketing background into a new company that has since attracted some of the industry’s biggest customers.
"Jeff knows everything about marketing and I provided the technical knowhow," Tedesco said. "In a way, ‘technology’ and ‘marketing’ is an oxymoron, but together they click."
Their initial investment was about $500,000.
The technical heart of the relatively new firm is a software program developed by Tedesco called IRIS, which is able to gather data from the Internet and elsewhere and distribute a variety of marketing information for and to his clients.
"The ultimate goal is to use the information to not only increase profits for the clients, but to strengthen the customers’ loyalty to the client," Tedesco said.
He said his firm provides marketing information mostly to hotel chains and the travel industry, but it also has smaller clients.
"There are 25 other companies like ours in the world, but we’re the biggest when it comes to serving the travel industry," Tedesco said.
For example, a couple who reserves rooms in a resort would be either e-mailed information about other activities at the resort such as golf programs, trips, massage services or, they could receive a mailed postcard at their home about similar programs.
The postcards and other paper promotions are gathered and processed at Intrasight’s warehouse, now at 4130 E. Van Buren Street, Phoenix but will later relocate to the Scottsdale office.
The basic information, such as the couple’s address, is gleaned by Intrasight from the resort’s database when the couple called or e-mailed for reservations.
The data gathering is done for the client, in this case the resort, under a financial agreement with Intrasight.
Today, Intrasight has 75 employees and recently purchased the two-story, 60,000-square foot building at E. 83rd Place and Raintree Drive for $7 million.
The near future?
"We expect to grow 20 percent per year for the next five years," Tedesco said.
Why is your company called Intrasight?
"Because we’re looking inside and trying to learn more."
David Tedesco Age: 30
Family: Married, wife, Gemma
Resides in: Scottsdale
Key achievement: With an initial investment of about $500,000, Tedesco and co-founder, Jeff Walters, president, started the company in May, 2001. Today, the firm headquartered at 8300 E. Raintree Drive, Scottsdale, is grossing more than $10 million in sales annually
The company has offices in Greensboro, N.C., Honolulu and Middlesbrough, England
Some of Intrasight’s clients
Avis, Best Western, Cold Stone Creamery, Dr. Pepper/7-Up, Four Seasons Hotels, Hawaiian Visitors Bureaus, Jack Daniels, Lorillard, Marriott, Microsoft, Omni Hotels, Orient Express, Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sheraton hotels, Visa.