Robert Swarthout (04C)

Robert Swarthout (04C)

2023 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner: Entrepreneurial Spirit Robert Swarthout

2023 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner: Entrepreneurial Spirit

Robert Swarthout (04C)

From a partnership launched during his days as a Berry student, Robert Swarthout has honed his business acumen and demonstrated the ability to think creatively, take calculated risks, capitalize on unique opportunities and challenge the status quo, time and time again. The seasoned technical founder now has more than 18 years of experience creating, leading and selling multiple start-up SaaS (Software as a Service) businesses, the most recent with $10 million-plus in annual recurring revenue.

His entrepreneurial journey began when he cofounded PaperBackSwap.com in November 2003 with Berry alumnus Richard Pickering (84C). Swarthout served more than four years as vice president of operations in the company, which grew into National Book Swap, LLC.

His next endeavor grew from the inspiration to engineer a solution for a problem wife Tessa Frye Swarthout (07C) faced in her work as a wedding photographer. The result was a fast-scaling SaaS business, ShootProof.com, which he co-founded with Berry classmate Colin Breece (04C). Their web service for wedding and portrait photographers provides galleries, shopping carts, payments, and other back-office functions. Robert handled or oversaw “all things technical, many operational and finance functions,” as he and Breece launched and grew the business from $0 to more than $10 million in recurring revenue while growing to 43 full-time employees. From the company’s founding in 2009 until March 2019, Swarthout worked to build the most user-friendly online photography proofing system. He left his full-time role with ShootProof after a private equity group purchased a majority stake in the business, but continues to serve on the company’s board of directors.

In his current career chapter, Swarthout focuses on digital assets as CEO and portfolio manager of Teton Crypto Capital. He is passionate about blockchain (a peer-to-peer decentralized distributed ledger technology that makes the records of any digital asset transparent and unchangeable) and believes cryptocurrencies will revolutionize the world in the decades and years ahead. Being a detail-oriented person has served him well in his research to discover projects early in their lifecycle to deliver “outsized alpha” or maximum return for investors.

Swarthout also partners with his brother Bradley in BARE Holdings LLC, a real estate investment company, and generously invests his time and abilities in serving others. He has served as a member of Berry’s Board of Trustees since 2020, and directly supports budding entrepreneurs through his giving to Berry. The Entrepreneurship Launch Fund and Endowed Entrepreneurial Scholars Fund he and Tessa established in their names provide opportunities for student entrepreneurs through Berry’s Student Enterprises and Entrepreneurship Development program. Robert previously served on Berry’s Board of Visitors, is a member of the Entrepreneur Advisory Council, spearheaded the Once a Runner fundraising campaign to honor his track and cross country coach Paul Deaton (91C) on his 30th anniversary with Berry, and served as master of ceremonies for the 2022 Evening of Honors, Berry’s premier event.

Find out how to nominate a Berry alum for a Distinguished Alumni award here.

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