Scott Kirsner’s Video Interview with Steve Papa – Thoughts


Steve Papa started Endeca in 1999 and sold to Oracle for around $1 Billion in 2011. This recent
video interview is worth a quick review. It’s quite revealing about the mindset of a successful entrepreneur. I’ve trapped a couple of thoughts below that I thought were worth sharing:

  1. Entrepreneurship is a symbiotic relationship between on the one hand, profound creativity and insight and on the other hand, profound ignorance.  For example, if I knew then what I know now I’d never have moved forward. Moving people, getting stuff done, requires a belief system. You need to commit to drive forward. You need to make your own path. Find the hole in the market you believe you can fill.
  2. The world is divided into two types of people. The ones that focus on what’s possible and the ones that can explain why it won’t work. The latter are often very analytical and excel at creating lists of insightful failure points!
  3. Recruiting talent is more about the idea, the story you are telling, the cause you believe in, more than you might think. In 1999, Endeca was an empty vessel with a great idea and the promise of money later. For nine very smart people that was enough.
  4. The financial backers can be great people. It matters who you get into bed with. Ampersand Capital Partners of Wellesley, MA, promised to fund the company the week prior to 9/11. Most backers would have walked away from closing the deal. The lead partner couldn’t fly after 9/11 so he drove from Minneapolis to Boston to ensure the deal got done.
  5. It’s the responsibility of the leader to ensure talent is set up for success. Steve admitted he failed to do that at times. This is a vital point for all entrepreneurs. Are you really setting up your sales team, production team, customer support team, etc. for success?
  6. At the point when the company had around 200 plus staff, Steve created a Special Operations Team. This team was hand picked/self selected to solve really tough problems. I believe every small business should consider creating small project teams to get stuff done. Too often I see great projects stalling, trapped inside the finance department or the marketing department. Create multi-departmental project teams (even as small as 2 people) to get really important stuff done.
  7. Finally when asked what advice he would give young students/entrepreneurs – he replied without hesitation – find something you love. Find your passion and you will be good at it. Not original but in a world of a 1000 choices, perhaps a lesson for all entrepreneurs of all ages, to revisit what really motivates them.
Still time to join me this week at the NSTC leadership event, Wednesday 26th Feb.

 

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