Case Studies & Success Stories
Austin McChord, Founder and Former CEO
I grew up in Newtown, went off to college in Rochester, NY and came back home afterward to start Datto. When the startup literally outgrew my basement and became a real business, I ended up moving it to Norwalk because it wasn’t an enormous commute change for the employees. Subsequently, as the business grew, I found that Norwalk was a really good spot. It sits at an interesting intersection of being commutable from a really good radius inside and outside Connecticut.
Datto solves data backup and disaster recovery problems for small- to medium-sized businesses. For us, attracting talent to the Connecticut area has been all about quality of life and the fact that you can find a good place to live that’s so much more affordable compared with New York City. There are a lot of folks that also want to leave the City and have a house with a lawn, a dog and all those things. So, it was very attractive in that sense to build the company in Norwalk. It’s a good balance because the City is still accessible but you can live a more suburban lifestyle.
Datto now has about 600 employees in the Norwalk area. It’s able to pull super-senior talent like a CFO who lives in Greenwich or New Canaan who doesn’t want to commute to New York City anymore. At the same time, it’s able to hire customer service representatives that live in Shelton to come and work in the office. So, this is a good spot to gather all of that talent. It’s this unique mix of access and affordability that was the case of how we ended up in Norwalk and decided to stay in Norwalk. I continue to believe that Norwalk has an incredibly diverse mix compared to almost any other town in Connecticut. It has an actual, thriving downtown. It’s a safe and nice place to live.
When I started the company in 2007, I bootstrapped the business, which meant I didn’t raise any money for the first six years. After that, I raised money from a venture capital firm up in Boston and subsequently from a firm in New York. Then eventually, I sold it to a private equity firm but still maintained a big ownership percentage and was still CEO. After 11 years, I stepped aside and my CFO became CEO. He then took the company public in 2020, which was always a long-term ambition of the business. In June of 2022, Datto acquired Infocyte, a Texas-based cyber threat detection and response company. The company was then merged into a firm called Kaseya. The Datto brand still exists. It’s now Datto, a Kaseya company.
When starting s business here, the Connecticut Innovations folks can be really helpful and some of the DECD loans that you can get for hiring and building businesses in Connecticut are really good. We were able to do that and it was very helpful for Datto. We also made sure to work with local banks. You’d be surprised as a founder how much local institutions are willing to rally and support you and want to see you succeed. That’s helpful. It’s actually sometimes a lot better to become the big fish in the small pond than trying to stand out in say, San Francisco, which is impossible. Going public and when Kaseya became involved, they saw a fully formed company.
One of the things that’s been pretty amazing about the whole Datto journey is how many people who have started or built other things in the same industry in the lower Fairfield County area. There are a bunch of startups now that serve managed service providers, which is Datto’s channel, to reach small businesses in the Connecticut area. That’s been pretty cool to see happen.
Right now, I run a med-tech company that makes of all kinds of things. Like a toilet seat that can take your blood pressure reading, which is kind of wild. There’s an enormous market and opportunities for devices to manage chronic conditions and the whole process where healthcare is moving to the home. I continue to invest in businesses in the greater Connecticut area, including a cyber security company called Zorus that is based in Norwalk.