Entrepreneur’s Story: CardinalCommerce– June 02, 2017 by Randy Myeroff

We are always excited to share the perspectives and stories of remarkable entrepreneurs who have weathered challenges and seized opportunities to build successful businesses. The “Entrepreneur’s Story” series will offer insights into the ups and downs of leading private companies from a variety of industries and regions. CardinalCommerce is one of those stories.
This is the amazing tale of how Mike Keresman, Tim Sherwin and Chandra Balasubramanian founded CardinalCommerce in Mentor, Ohio, when e-commerce was in its infancy — turning the electronic payment industry on its head — and eventually selling to a leader in the U.S. credit card industry. Below is an excerpt from “Taking Flight While Maintaining Their Roots: Three Friends and Entrepreneurs Built CardinalCommerce into a Payment Powerhouse” from the spring issue of Taxonomics.

While Mike Keresman was growing up in the blue-collar suburb of Parma, Ohio, he had a recurring dream of founding a company in Cleveland that would have something to do with technology and that he would name, yes, Cardinal.
“Mike is a brilliant, hard-driving leader,” says Maura Corrigan, the tax partner at Cohen & Company who has advised and worked with Cardinal since its inception in 1999. “I also think his belief that he would see that dream become a reality helped him fight through the years of challenges to get to this pinnacle of entrepreneurial and financial success.”
That makes more startling Keresman’s answer to the question of what he would do differently as a young founder if he knew then what he knows now. “I don’t know that I would have done Cardinal,” he says flatly, and then goes quiet for a man known for sharp and ready answers. Pressed, he continues, “This has been long and hard. You know, you start something like this. You have a lot of responsibilities, obligations, and the toll it takes is pretty heavy.”
Given the gusto with which he discusses the details of building Cardinal and the joy he feels at passing the leadership mantle to his two closest friends, Keresman is not communicating regret. He is just being honest with himself, and with anyone romanticizing successful entrepreneurship, about its weight and emotional cost.
Read the full story in Taxonomics about the journey Keresman and his two co-founders were about to embark on and how they built the CardinalCommerce product and team from scratch, changed the electronic payment industry, and prepared to sell to Visa.
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