Jason Borrevik serves technology and life science companies as a management consultant at Compensia, Inc. His clients are located throughout the United States, with many in Silicon Valley and the Pacific Northwest. The focus of his work is on advising Boards of Directors and executive management teams on the design and implementation of their cash and equity compensation programs. He works with a wide range of companies from smaller venture-backed start-ups to multi-billion dollar mature public companies.
Borrevik grew up in Eugene, Oregon and focused on academics and athletics as a youth. Growing up his favorite sports to play and watch were basketball, football, and tennis. His grandfather played for the Oregon Ducks and in the NBA in the 1940s. Jason Borrevik graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Oregon in 1994 with a BA in Economics before moving to California to attend law school at the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall. During law school, he worked as a legal intern with the Oakland Raiders and aspired to become a sports agent after seeing the Tom Cruise film, Jerry Maguire, in 1996.
After graduating law school in 1997, Jason Borrevik started a job as an associate at the pre-eminent law firm in Silicon Valley, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. While there he worked in the Executive Compensation and Benefits Group, specializing in assisting technology companies with the complex legal, tax, accounting, and regulatory issues associated with a broad range of compensation matters. In keeping with his earlier aspirations, Borrevik viewed working as an interface between Boards and management teams at his technology company clients as similar to a sports agent’s role with athletes and their teams.
Having found his niche, in 2005, Jason Borrevik joined Compensia as a management consultant where he is currently a Principal. Compensia provides objective, independent, and expert advice to Compensation Committees and senior management on matters related to executive pay and performance. Formed in 2003 by partners of nationally recognized consulting and law firms, Compensia has established itself as one of the largest executive compensation consulting firms in the country.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
I was inspired to join Compensia in 2005 after learning about the business from several former law firm colleagues. My work at Compensia was a natural transition from a similar advisory role I had as a corporate attorney.
Compensia was a relatively new business at the time and had a compelling vision and business model to become the number one independent advisor to technology and life science companies in the country. Over the last 15 years, we have achieved that goal and continue to serve as the market leader in our space. Our work is fast-paced, technical and rewarding.
How do you make money?
We generally serve as independent advisors to Compensation Committees of the Board of Directors at our private and public technology and life science company clients. We are paid to provide strategic advice and compensation benchmarking to our clients.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
We have grown our business to become the leading compensation advisor to high-technology companies in the country. We continue to strive to grow revenue and profitability in this endeavor.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
When I started at Compensia in 2005, our business was growing in an emerging industry in the technology sector and we were much leaner than we are today. I had faith that we would persevere because of the quality and depth of knowledge of our people and our collective focus on the growth and success of the business. We put our heads down, delivered strong work, and steadily grew our client base in the face of this uncertainty.
How did you get your first customer?
My first client came by way of a good friend from law school who had faith in myself and referred his company to Compensia. I started with a standard executive compensation review for their management team back in 2005 and have worked with them ever since.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Honestly, it’s simple—do great work. I have found that more formal marketing strategies can be a drain on time, money and energy. My clients want clear, concise responses to their questions and queries without all of the bells and whistles. Providing simple, easy-to-understand materials for clients empowers them to more easily comprehend and discuss important issues that might otherwise seem more complex and daunting than necessary.
We have extensive expertise in compensation program design and analysis, as well as a deep understanding of the key areas that shape executive compensation, including corporate governance, SEC disclosure, tax and accounting regulations, and institutional investor voting policies.
Our clients demand excellence and we strive to deliver. When we do, the strength of our brand grows and more Board members and companies want to work with us.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
We are presented with new client opportunities on a regular basis and it can be challenging to determine which companies to work with. I have turned down certain opportunities to ensure that I am able to continue to provide top-notch service to my existing client base. In order to best serve my current clients and potential future clients, I do not allow myself to be overextended with the companies I work with nor compromise on quality or responsiveness. Luckily, we have a full roster of highly qualified consultants at Compensia who are able to step in and meet the needs of these prospective clients.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I have a deep and abiding passion for knowledge and am constantly educating myself on new and changing information and data. My aim is to be as creative as my work allows to provide as unique an experience as possible for all of my clients. I am as responsive as possible so that clients know that they are important to me. I’m outgoing and friendly and believe that clients find it easy to be open and work with me. Ultimately, I strive to ensure that my clients are satisfied with and appreciate my effort and the quality of my advice and technical skills.
We help companies make informed decisions that balance the sometimes competing interests of shareholders and executives. As a firm, we participate actively and independently in Compensation Committee deliberations and decision-making (including pay philosophy development). Compensia commits the time and effort to understand our client’s challenges and pay programs, key matters before the Compensation Committee, and trends and developments affecting executive compensation. We approach each decision with the goal of driving long-term shareholder value. I think this sets us apart from other firms and our clients appreciate this focus and drive.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
I feel that I am a part of something special with many of our compelling clients, even if I’m achieving that success somewhat vicariously. We work with the most innovative and interesting companies in the world and are a small but important part in helping them shape their compensation and business strategies to ensure that their employees are attracted, retained and rewarded in a fair and reasonable manner.
I am thrilled when our clients are successful and drive shareholder results in a way that materially improves the lives of their employees. Since 2005 I have seen this through many of the IPOs with which we have assisted many companies.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Our business remains strong. I expect continued growth in our industry and especially for Compensia based on the strength of the technology and life science sectors.
I am most excited about the chance to continue to work with fascinating companies in disruptive and interesting fields such as self-driving and flying cars, virtual reality, robotics, 3D printing, satellite technologies and artificial intelligence.
I am also excited that the subject matter of my work continues to evolve and requires ongoing diligence and education to ensure that I remain a subject matter expertise. This is a difficult field to master but it is always interesting.
Finally, I enjoy working with the younger generation at Compensia. We hire smart, talented and ambitious employees who bring unique insights and perspectives to the way we approach our business and we are all accountable to the team as owners of the business.
What business books have inspired you?
Good to Great by Jim Collins and The Trusted Advisor by David Maister.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
Recently I purchased a new Logitech webcam. I work remotely and participate in a lot of video meetings and it really helps with my communication to have a more professional set-up in my office.
What do you do for fun outside of the office?
My wife and I have been married for 16 years and have two boys (age 14 and 11). I am actively involved in their extracurricular activities and help coach their basketball and football teams. As a family we enjoy traveling, hiking, and adventuring (ziplining in Alaska anyone?). In the last couple of years, I have also become addicted to Pickleball. If you don’t know about it, look it up! To unwind at the end of a long day, I love to read and watch movies.