» THE HEART OF AN ENTREPRENEUR
Whether he is at the office reviewing financial projections or relaxing at his West Texas ranch, Bill Morrow, ’86, is an entrepreneur at heart. As long as Morrow can remember, he has created companies. He started his first business when he was 9 years old, then he formed a painting company in college to pay expenses. In 1999, he founded a telecommunications company, Grande Communications.
As a senior in Associate Professor Woodie Spivey’s class, Morrow and his team won first place in the course’s business plan competition. “Previously I’d always run mostly one-level, lifestyle businesses,” said Morrow, a native of Brownsville. “I began to understand leadership and how to leverage team dynamics. That company directly paralleled a company that I later started.”
After college, Morrow spent 12 years at CP&L, a publicly traded electric utility that had employed both his father and grandfather. “I spent time working in marketing, lobbying and learning about utility regulation,” said Morrow.
“I improved upon my skill set and learned every aspect of the business. I made connections with bankers and lawyers that opened up doors for me for future ventures.”
Morrow, chairman and chief executive officer of CSIdentity Corporation, has over 20 years experience in leadership and building businesses. He co-founded his latest venture, CSIdentity Corporation, an Austin-based company, in 2006. CSIdentity is the industry leader in identity theft protection, voice biometrics, ID verification and data breach management.
Under his leadership, CSIdentity provides cutting-edge technology, products and services to Fortune 500 companies, governmental entities and small businesses. CSIdentity protects more than 2 million members through its retail and wholesale channels.
“Our products are designed to catch criminal activity before it happens and early on before there is extensive damage to your credit,” said Morrow, who received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2010 for Central Texas. “The earlier a stolen identity is detected, the easier it is to repair.”
The issues of fraud and identity fabrication were made apparent to Morrow while at Grande. “If they can attack a large corporation, what is happening to small businesses and individuals?”
After studying the industry and realizing the magnitude of the problem, Morrow and his team entered the world of identity theft.
“The entire industry was focused on credit reporting, so we pioneered detection and protection of non-credit related identity theft. Acquiring the talents and technology of one of the top scientists in this area, Harold Gottschalk, we were up and running in six months.”
Now the company has expanded their offerings to include voice biometrics, dubbed “the unforgettable password.” “In less than 10 seconds we can verify your identity, and all we need is a phone,” he said. By verifying transactions over the phone, he added, they can create partnerships within the industry and attack the $54 billion fraud issue in the U.S.
With his expertise in building companies and his background in technology, Morrow was appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to serve on the advisory committee for the Texas Emerging Technology Fund. In 2007, he was appointed chairman of the $220 million fund and was recently asked to serve a third term on the board.
“It is an honor to give back to the state that you love and create jobs and economic growth,” said Morrow. “I find this work rewarding. I can look at financials and understand the patterns. I can peel back the layers and see how the numbers flow.”
A cause close to his heart is his work with the Texas foster care system. Morrow and his wife Traci are the parents of adopted 11-year-old twin sons. Through Operation Orphan, a project he’s been involved with for three years, children spend time on his ranch, and most recently he has used his experience from CSIdentity to protect their identities.
“CSIdentity has been providing identity theft protection free of charge to the foster care kids of Texas,” he said. “Through initial research, we’ve found that about 10 to 15 percent of foster kids have attempts on their identities and close to 10 percent are actually breached. Kids are now a massive target. It is good for companies to have a soul.”
In support of programming in the College of Business, Morrow recently pledged more than $100,000 to the College of Business. “I want to be more involved at UTSA,” said Morrow, who sits on the UTSA Development Board and on the College of Business Advisory Council. “UTSA gave me the building blocks that have led me to where I am today. I am a bit like Abraham Lincoln. I’ve seen my share of success and failure but have kept on going.”
Morrow, a self professed deal junkie, encourages budding entrepreneurs to have perseverance, be flexible in their pursuits and to cultivate good mentors. “For a venture to be successful, you need the right idea, the right leadership, the right board and investors. My passion is the creation of new ventures.”