Scott Roth is the youthful leader of Jama Software, one Oregon's fastest growing tech startups. The 41-year-old CEO made a splash last year when he raised more than $200 million from out-of-state venture capitalists—and almost immediately captured the imagination of every Oregon startup with global ambitions.
Next month, Roth will take the main stage at TechfestNW to talk about "The five things I've learned about work," and share his insights into growing one of Oregon's largest tech firms.
What does Jama software do? At its simplest, Jama makes product development platforms, tools that allow sophisticated companies—clients include Elon Musk's Space X, and autonomous vehicle firms—to share data and experiences with one another.
Jama's vision, Roth says, is to help companies "make possible, the impossible products of the future." Roth says that when it comes to building medical devices, autonomous vehicles, satellite systems and breakthrough robotics, the various engineers, software developers and other contributors "all perform different functions with different methodologies and different toolsets …." That can make it tough for a company to know what exactly is happening across all the teams, and "[t]hat's exactly where Jama can help."
As it affects product development, Jama may also disrupt a once-hallowed institution: the face-to-face meeting.
"Meetings aren't necessarily bad, but we think that they can be more efficient," Roth wrote in an email.
One of Jama's customers, Medisync, believes Jama saved 80 percent of employees' time that "previously would have been wasted on meetings, sorting through versioned documents and emails, and consolidating feedback in review," Roth notes.
Roth is an unusually chill CEO. His demeanor is relaxed and friendly, yet he is often the first one in the office each day and, after dinner with his family, spends several hours a night sending emails.
While Scott runs Jama, his wife Allie Roth is president and founder of With Love Oregon, which supports local foster parents with free stuff like clothing, shoes, bedding, books and baby toys. The pair have two biological children and are also foster parents themselves, so questions of work and work-life balance are hardly academic. Roth says he's found frequent "check ins" with his wife, daily exercise and intentional parenting to help avoid burnout.
Located at at PSU's Viking Pavilion, TechfestNW will be a homecoming of sort for Roth, who has an M.B.A. from Portland State University. Working with the urban university's cooperative education pilot program, Jama has forged an "intern pipeline" which helps "build a pipeline of potential full-time job candidates" among other benefits, Roth explains.
Part of that partnership is related to the company's diversity and inclusivity goals, Roth says.
"Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for me, personally, as a leader, and for Jama culturally," Roth wrote in an email. (He declined to share numbers.)
In recent years the company added European operations, including an Amsterdam office but Roth's hope is to continue to grow Jama as a standalone Portland tech company.
"It's a great place to do business—and we need more Portland-grown tech firms," he says. "I think the best years are still to come for the Silicon Forest and we hope to do our part to be a cornerstone in the region's growth."