‘Hard work pays off’ common theme in Alboddo founder’s life, despite career changes

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John Zhang at his desk at Alboddo Technology, which uses office space provided by the Charleston Digital Corridor. (Suzelle Santos/CHStechgirl).

From China to the United States, Columbia, Missouri to Columbia, South Carolina, and finally to Charleston, John Zhang has seen his fair change of zip codes and career changes.

Zhang is the founder of software-as-a-service provider Alboddo Technology, which uses office space provided by the Charleston Digital Corridor.

Its fundraising software, Charity Proud, provides cloud-based donation acceptance and management solutions for small and medium-sized non-profits.

He’s had over a dozen years of success in software engineering, but surprisingly enough, he got his start working with animals.

The now coder and forever-animal lover first went to veterinary school in China, then transferred to animal science. Continuing his love of animals after moving to the states, Zhang studied animal science in graduate school at the University of Missouri – Columbia.

“I drove to the farm twice a day to feed them,” says Zhang, about the pigs and cows he used to study. The work got physically demanding.

That’s when Zhang decided to make a switch.

“Computer science just became very popular,” says Zhang, “It was new, and not too many people were doing it.”

1999 — That’s when he and his wife moved from Columbia, Missouri to Columbia, South Carolina to attend the University of South Carolina and pursue a career in computer science.

Zhang started learning how to code, first with HTML and CSS. He thought it was easy, but interesting. “I can make a difference here,” he said.

Zhang got his degree in Electronic Engineering from USC, and joined his first Avista Solutions in 2001.

He remembers pulling all-nighters at Avista Solutions while his wife finished graduate school.

“She was doing her homework, I was working, and I really enjoyed that,” Zhang said.

For him, hard work always pays off. “You’ll get a payback, sooner or later, in some way.”

Because of those found memories, Zhang says he always tells colleagues, that if they aren’t spending enough time with your significant other, they should just bring them to work.

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By 2012, all that hard work paid off.  “We were one of the best mortgage software providers,” says, Zhang, who was then the company’s CTO.

Then finance company D+H bought Avista Solutions for 40 million dollars.

Zhang says he was asked to stay on the team for two more years as the company transitioned. He stayed, but had big plans for when his contract ended.

“I saw everything from scratch to its mature stage of how to grow a company,” says Zhang. After learning all he could at Avista Solutions, he knew it was time to start a business on his own.

Zhang started his own company – Alboddo Technology – on July 2, 2014, after leaving D+H. He says after a lot of research, he Zhang decided to go after fundraising software.

Much like David and Goliath, Zhang is now the leader of a small company that’s up against industry giants.

But he says that doesn’t worry him. Instead, he thinks of it as an advantage.

“One of the biggest problems with current products on the market is that they’re too hard for [customers] to use,” Zhang says. He believes bigger, more established companies add dozens features to satisfy all of their many clients, making their product anything but user friendly.

Zhang says being smaller helps Alboddo make changes in an ever-changing field, something bigger companies can’t always do.

“Nothing is static, even for big companies. If they don’t move when the market moves, they will get in trouble.”

Boasting the confidence of someone who has been through it all before, Zhang seems to know that his hard work will pay off yet again. This time, with Alboddo Technology.

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