#SparkSquad: Featuring Derek Vargas


We have a pretty amazing team here at Spark.Orange, so it’s only natural to want to highlight our people! And, what better way is there for you to learn more about who we are and what we do? For this installment in our #SparkSquad series, I sat down with Derek Vargas, Managing Partner at Spark.Orange.

How did Spark.Orange come about?

Aliza and I met working for a consultancy that used CRM as a backbone for sales and marketing engagements. We had the opportunity to work with a handful of the most popular CRM systems out there, but when we used Salesforce, we fell in love with the tool. We saw how much tangible value it provided for our customers and how fun it was to solve problems using it. We also had the entrepreneurial desire to have a socially conscious tech company that could grow in Syracuse and provide jobs for years to come. We felt like this was a great market opportunity so took the leap!

Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

There were probably some signs like I had no problem with taking charge, regardless of the situation, but it wasn’t an initial thought of mine. It wasn’t until I worked for Blue Mercury that I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I was the VP of Information Services and worked for two of the smartest entrepreneurs that I ever met. They both brought different things to the table. Barry brought a lot of experience and business savvy, what to invest in, where to invest your time, etc. Marla is one of the smartest people that I’ve ever met and she took the concept of ‘understanding your customer’ to a different level. I saw them do it and do it well, and realized ‘I want to do this for myself’.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received, and what words of advice do you have for others?

The best career advice I’ve ever received is actually the advice that I’ve never received. The one thing I’ve learned, that I’m super committed to, is to follow your gut instinct and trust your intuition. You know when it’s time to make a move or change your approach or change your role. You can affect change in so many different ways. It’s hardwired into our genetics and human nature to constantly want to explore. You shouldn’t shut down your intuition when it comes to those things.

If you hadn’t started Spark.Orange, what would you be doing right now?

It would’ve been another business – it was time for me to start a business.

Now, onto some more fun, personal (and random) things:

What’s the coolest place you’ve ever been?

I don’t have one singular answer to this because there’s such beauty in the uniqueness and spirit of a place. Whether it’s the Adirondacks or Aruba or the Rockies or Napa Valley–they all have such amazing character. Even cities like New York or San Francisco: everything has its own feel and I love experiencing and exploring new places. If I had a chance to go away every week, I’d rather explore new places than go back to the ones I loved. That’s part of the excitement for me.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Optimistic, fun, empathetic.

If you could have lunch with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

I’d have to say, George Carlin. He’s a comedian and one of the funniest and smartest people who ever existed. Laughter is the key to a happy life so I’d love to hear his perspective on today’s current events. Also on the short list would be Eddie Murphy and Robin Williams.

Tell us something interesting that most people don’t know about you.

I’m still a closet gamer. When I was growing up I loved to play video games and every once in awhile I will still sit on the couch for a weekend and beat the game.