If you haven’t been following, for the past few months NPM sponsored the “Scale the Wall” series from Business Rockstars, a weekly segment of interviews with private company CEOs about how they overcame the challenges of building their businesses. So far, we’ve broadcasted over 28 interviews with CEOs from prominent companies, such as: ApartmentList.com, DocuSign, Thuuz Sports, Levi’s, Thumbtack and Juicero. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or a current CEO, we encourage you to watch some of our previous interviews to hear candid stories of common startup failures turned into successes. Visit our Vimeo page to watch them and tune in to www.businessrockstars.com every Friday at 1:15pm PT for a new interview.
During August, we interviewed four CEOs, each with a different formula and piece of advice for building a successful company. Here’s a quick recap of what they said:
On coming up with your business idea:
“Take something complex and make it simple. If it’s not simple, you can’t execute and your customers can’t understand it.” – DocuSign CEO Keith Krach
DocuSign has transformed the paper industry by providing an online environment for sending and signing documents. The idea, CEO Keith Krach says, was inherently very simple: signing documents on paper leads to a lengthy paper trail, hours spent collecting signatures, and no online record; so here’s a software-based solution. In the interview, Krach also talks about the importance of being humble and understanding your failures and how to turn them into successes. “Ego is your enemy,” Krach says. “Humility is your friend.”
On time management as a CEO:
“Block off time to read and meet other CEOs. The best way for me to grow the company is to get outside perspectives and meet other CEOS to talk through problems with them.” – InDinero CEO Jessica Mah
Jessica Mah started her game-changing financial software company InDinero at 19 years old, so you could say she had a steep learning curve as an entrepreneur. That didn’t stop her from aggressively raising money, building a userbase of 30,000+ and employing a staff of over 100. Like many first-time CEOs, she originally made the mistake of trying to do everything herself without delegating. As a result, she felt burned out and found it difficult to keep her team focused and in-line with her vision. Now, she recognizes the value of taking a step back, seeking advice from other CEOs and carving out time solely to think (she calls them her “think weeks”).
On the importance of building a great team:
“You cannot get big without a great team that you delegate to. Learn how to recruit those people and give them serious responsibility fast.” – Darby Smart CEO Nicole Farb
Nicole Farb left a steady job at Goldman Sachs to start Darby Smart, an online marketplace to discover, shop and learn about creative ideas. The leap from a well-capitalized financial institution to the uncertainty of the startup world was scary yet extremely satisfying, she says. But no entrepreneur makes the journey alone. She quickly learned the importance of finding smart, talented people to surround herself with and “empowering them with the knowledge to get their jobs done.” As CEO, she says her most important job is to continue to inspire her team, keeping them motivated and focused on the long-term vision of the company.
On owning every aspect of your business:
“When you’re CEO, you have to own everything in the company. You are responsible for the product succeeding or failing.” – Justin Barney, CEO of ScaleArc
Justin Barney started ScaleArc, a company that offers software for database performance and load balancing, out of his passion for learning about network connectivity. But as a first time entrepreneur with a heavy sales background, he knew he would have to learn every aspect of his products fast. He found it crucial, therefore, to spend time conducting independent research, talking to thought leaders and leaning on his team of experts to teach him the things he didn’t know. Today, he continues to try to inspire a culture of education in his company by organizing periodic offsites with his management team to simply sit and talk about the products and the industry at large.
Tune in again this Friday at 1:15pm PT for another episode of #ScaletheWall and be sure to check out our Vimeo page for the rest of the interviews.
If you are an entrepreneur or know someone that has an interesting story to share and would like to be on “Scale the Wall”, please contact Ashleigh Bilodeaux (Ashleigh@npm.com).