I have been involved with MassChallenge since its inception, mentoring over a dozen companies. Some went on to become cash prize winners, and most are still on-going concerns. I have also completed three interim assignments, helping MassChallenge itself by working on key operational initiatives. Most recently as Interim COO I implemented organizational changes so we could take the best practices from our Boston accelerator and apply them to the successful launch of MassChallenge UK, our first international in-country program. In 2015 we welcomed 90 startups to our London accelerator while spending $500k under budget. Based on what we learned in the UK, we created a “Play Book” to permit the simultaneous and efficient expansion of MassChallenge to multiple cities around the world, with three cities –- Jerusalem, Geneva, and Mexico City — added in 2016 vs. a plan for two cities. I once again will mentor companies in 2016.
Archive for the ‘Interim COO’ Category
As with all of 15 interim gigs, the success we had over the last year when I was Interim CEO at Cambridge Sound Management is due to the people. As my first boss said, “Success in business is all about the people.” Hire good people. Train them. Motivate them. Empower them.
I’ve found this to be true no matter what industry I’ve been in and no matter what size the company.
CSM is the number one sound masking company in the world. It’s main product line, QtPro is based on patented technology and is used by over 40% of the Fortune 100 companies to protect speech privacy and to (more…)
When I was signing up for this year’s unConference, I was reminded how last year’s event was great because of the impromptu breakout sessions where it was fair game to discuss controversial subjects. I wish every founding CEO could have been at last year’s session titled, “How founding CEOs can transition from visionary to leader.” Though that was the title, it was clear from the get-go that this session was really about, “How founding CEOs can avoid getting fired before they ever make that transition from visionary to leader.” Eric Paley and Katie Rae, the session leaders, did a great job covering this controversial subject, focusing on solutions to this common problem.
For the last decade, I have been “up close and personal” with the subject of founding CEOs getting fired. As interim CEO at a half dozen companies I bridged the gap after a founding CEO was let go by his investors. And as interim COO at another half dozen companies I helped the founding CEO endure the pressures of their job. (As one founding CEO said when he called asking for help, “Des, I’m one Board meeting away from getting fired. Can you give me a hand?”)
In last year’s unConference session, people had many reasons why founding CEOs get fired “early and often.” The reasons that resonated with me are: (more…)
Since summer, I’ve been interim COO at RelayRides, the world’s first neighbor-to-neighbor carsharing service. I work for founding CEO Shelby Clark. Yesterday we announced funding from August Capital and Google Ventures.
RelayRides is an innovative twist on the traditional carsharing model, ala Zipcar. I believe our business model will have an important impact on the young and rapidly growing $12.5B global carsharing industry. Adding neighbor-to-neighbor carsharing to a community with traditional carsharing is one of those instances when one plus one equals more than two, as detailed here.
RelayRides is a perfect example of Collaborative Consumption. Rather than putting new cars on the road like other carsharing services, RelayRides goes the eco-friendly route by leveraging existing, often idle autos. Neighbors help each other. Car owners recover some of the costs of owning an expensive asset while they simultaneously provide a new, convenient transportation option for their neighbors in need of a car.
After operating in Cambridge for six months, Tuesday we launched our second city, San Francisco, generating a slew of great press.
I advise young founding CEOs, either in my role as interim COO or as a “CEO Coach.” A common issue they raise is their frustration with an employee who does not work incredibly long hours. I struggled with this until I recalled that, when I was their age, I felt the same way! I’ve been managing since I was 23 and, for about a decade, I too was impressed with an employee who worked the longest hours.
The secret to a successful startup? A great idea being worked on by people with three characteristics you’ll not find on a resume11 September 2010
Through the MassChallenge Mentoring Program, I’ve been spending three hours each week advising RelayRides, a company with a great idea – peer-to-peer car sharing – that’s smack in the middle of a strong new movement, Collaborative Consumption as written about in The Economist and by Leigh Buchanan in Inc, Clive Thompson in Wired, and Jenna Wortham in The New York Times.
Late on Tuesday, the founder, Shelby Clark said, “Instead of just advising me, why don’t you just join us to accelerate our growth?” After a handshake agreement, I started that day as part-time interim COO. By 9 PM I was reminded that what it takes to turn a great idea into a successful company is (more…)