by Kurt Greenbaum

Doug Villhard, EMBA ’14, academic director for WashU Olin’s entrepreneurship platform, announced today the $30 million sale and acquisition of the startup he co-founded in 2007.

St. Louis-based Second Street, co-founded with Matt Coen, gives publishers and other clients the capacity to provide contests, interactive content, and emails to grow revenue, database, and engagement. The company has more than 500 clients, including news publisher Gannett, the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, and WGN-TV in Chicago.

According to a news release, Upland Software, which provides cloud-based tools for digital transformation, agreed to acquire Second Street for $25.4 million in cash at closing (net of cash acquired), paid out of cash on hand, and a $5 million cash holdback payable in 12 months.

“At Olin, I teach students to first ‘fall in love with the customer’s problem,’” said Villhard, who is also professor of practice in entrepreneurship. “If you get that right, it can lead to amazing things.”

Villhard said he worked on growing Second Street at the same time he was working on his MBA. “Every class I took I applied it to the company I was growing,” he said.

“Our customers’ business is only going to accelerate with Upland, which is tremendously gratifying for all of us who have been involved over the past 14 years in building such a special product,” Villhard said in a blog post on Upland’s website, co-founder and president of Second Street.

“At Olin, I teach students to first ‘fall in love with the customer’s problem. If you get that right, it can lead to amazing things.”

Other highlights from Upland’s announcement of the acquisition:

“Our customers need to deliver content experiences consumers enjoy interacting with and benefit from,” said Jack McDonald, chairman and CEO of Upland (which is publicly traded on Nasdaq: UPLD). “Contests and interactive content are a proven and effective way to engage, attract, and retain consumers, and Second Street delivers this at scale.”

Upland expects the acquisition to generate annual revenue of approximately $9.4 million, of which all is recurring.

The Upland Cloud enables thousands of organizations to engage with customers on key digital channels, optimize sales team performance, manage projects and IT costs, and automate critical document workflows.

Villhard is also a partner with his brother in Villhard Growth Partners, a private equity firm that invests in, partners with, and grows strong, tech-enabled business and healthcare services companies. He has been involved in the launch and operation of two other startups. And he started Father McGivney Catholic High School in Glen Carbon, Illinois.

Pictured above: Doug Villhard on stage at one of Second Street’s annual customer summits (photo courtesy Doug Villhard).

This article originally appeared on the Olin blog and is reprinted with permission.