Qorus is a global provider of proposal management document automation software, but like many companies, it started from a humble place. The fast-growing company, founded in South Africa by CEO Ray Meiring and co-founders Lee Child and Stephanie Laurent, bootstrapped its way to success, eventually partnering with Microsoft and moving its global headquarters to Seattle — along with Meiring and his family, who make their home in Bellevue.
Qorus CEO Ray Meiring got his start in tech at a young age. At 11, he was programming computers, and by the time he was in college, he had completed several tech projects for small companies in his hometown Cape Town, South Africa.
Passionate about both tech and business, Meiring founded his first software development company, Relate Technologies, in 2004. He didn’t have a big vision for the company. In fact, his “a-ha” moment didn’t come until 2008, when a client came to him with a problem.
The client was looking to create a high volume of loan contracts, but the only software available to help with that at the time was outside the client’s budget. “We said we’d build (the software), but we wanted to build it as a project,” Meiring said. “We wanted to build it and own it.” What Meiring and his team ultimately created was the first version of what would become Qorus.
“We didn’t see a massive global enterprise for this thing,” Meiring said. “It was really about building this cool product and using it to get in with new clients.”
And then in 2009, everything changed. Meiring went online and edited a Wikipedia page about creating documents and squeezed Qorus’ name — and a link to its website — into the text.
Meiring said that within 48 hours, someone at Vodaphone in England clicked on the link and said they’d like to see the software. Meiring traveled to England to present to Vodaphone, but said the presentation was a complete disaster. “My laptop broke on the train,” he recalled. “I got into the room, and I had all these people in their suits and ties. I was the tech guy there, and I drew the whole thing on the whiteboard — but they loved that.” Vodaphone became Qorus’ first major, global client.
Qorus continued to grow, adapting its software to run on SharePoint, landing more big clients like Ernst & Young, and in 2012, the company decided to solicit funding.
“We were getting so much demand that we needed to take on VC funding,” Meiring said. “We resigned out of the original company we started in 2004, and focused our full attention into Qorus.”
Over the years, Qorus continued to grow internationally and also picked up a number of clients in the United States, including Microsoft in 2015. “Microsoft was a huge win for us,” Meiring said. “We had built our software to run on their software, and they were using Qvidian, our competitor.”
As both a customer and a partner, Qorus’ relationship with Microsoft is a cornerstone of the software company’s success. It’s also the driving force behind why Qorus relocated its headquarters to Seattle.
Qorus has offices in South Africa and London, but the tech company now considers itself anchored in the Pacific Northwest, moving here last year. Reflecting on the past eight years — and looking to the future, Meiring said there are a few things he believes helped Qorus get it to where it is today.
This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of “425 Business.”