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January 21, 2015

Portland sales tax software startup hires former L.L.Bean executive

Photo / Courtesy of Terry Sutton
Photo / Courtesy of Terry Sutton
Terry Sutton

A former L.L.Bean veteran executive is joining Portland sales tax software startup Davo Technologies as its chief operating officer to help the company realize its growth ambitions.

Davo announced this month it had hired Terry Sutton, who most recently worked at L.L. Bean as senior vice president of business transformation and, before that, a variety of senior executive roles in marketing, ecommerce and customer satisfaction.

The move comes as Davo plans to bring its DavoTax sales tax software to market, with national ambitions in mind. The startup so far has raised a total of $2 million — most recently in the form of a $156,165 development loan from the Maine Technology Institute and a $100,000 equity investment from St. Louis-based SixThirty Ventures.

Davo also recently moved into Think Tank's co-working space in Portland.

Owen Brown, CEO and co-founder of Davo, told Mainebiz in a recent phone interview that the company decided to hire Sutton because her of experience in overseeing the scalability of various operations at L.L.Bean. He said Sutton's expertise will help the company grow its DavoTax product appropriately to serve as many merchants as possible.

"We think she can be instrumental in bringing us to the proverbial next level," he said. "It's very exciting to bring someone of her stature on board. You always want to add people on your staff who can add value where other team members cannot, so you bring someone who has experience with a company that has scaled."

Brown said the goal of DavoTax is to provide small- to mid-sized merchants a tool that allows them to automate sales tax payments to the state, letting them properly manage business funds without the added burden of filing and paying taxes themselves.

"There is no one else that is doing tax payments and filing the way we are doing it where we are integrated with merchants' point-of-sale system," he said.

Sutton told Mainebiz that she left L.L.Bean last April after spending 20 years with the company and finding herself wanting to move away from her more administrative roles.

After beginning work as a consultant, she said she began involving herself with the state's entrepreneurship scene, where she eventually met David Joseph, Davo's chairman and other co-founder, and learned about the company's DavoTax product.

"I love the technology idea and I could see how it could scale fairly quickly," Sutton said.

Sutton said over her years at L.L.Bean she was involved in the scaling of various business operations, such as the company's ecommerce and marketing division, as well as its customer service division.

She said her experience included leading hiring sprees for the company's call centers during holiday seasons and other projects where she had to address this question: "how do you grow business without adding a lot of costs?"

Sutton said knowing how to answer that question will allow her to serve as Davo's chief operating officer in leading the hiring, operations planning and other structural aspects. Davo might be a smaller company, she said, but many principles from her previous job still apply.

"It's fun to be starting something new," she said. "And maybe for some people it's risky, but I'm not that risk averse. For me, this is energizing and I'm thrilled to be a part of it."

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