It takes a village to nurture a successful business, and it’s common wisdom that every great business stands on the shoulders of a team of great mentors and advisors. Mcrew, a TechFW mentor program that matches startup founders with seasoned business leaders, wants to bridge that gap.
TechFW, an incubator and startup community in Fort Worth, recently pulled together key business insights from a few of its mentors. These 10 seasoned business professionals, who volunteer their time to help startups strategize and grow, have plenty of wisdom to share.
Meet the Mcrew mentors and read their “lessons learned,” provided by our friends at TechFW:
BUSINESS LESSON NO. 1
“Not making a decision is making a decision.”
Gumbleton, a transformational leader with an impressive history of building innovative programs that communities value, strategizes high-impact, low-cost approaches that work and develops authentic messaging that inspires. Additionally, she delivers metrics that show meaningful community change.
As a nonprofit executive Gumbleton nurtures her creative talent in design, social media, and program planning. Back in February 2018, she envisioned an all-inclusive home for food entrepreneurs called Locavore, which has tools and mentorship to help them not only survive, but thrive.
BUSINESS LESSON NO. 2
Rick Matos Ph.D. is the founder of Innovar L.L.C. He has more than thirty years of experience in the pharmaceutical arena as a researcher, patent practitioner, and consultant—as well as more than twenty-five years of experience as a patent practitioner. Matos is an author of scientific articles and an inventor of pharmaceutical and chemical process technologies. By integrating IP, business, and R&D strategies—and by building and managing robust large patent portfolios—he’s helped client startup corporations raise capital and achieve valuations of tens to hundreds of millions of dollars before being sold or even going public. Many domestic and international pharmaceutical products are covered by patents he has prosecuted.
BUSINESS LESSON NO. 3
Steve Montgomery is president of MontgomeryGR, a local government relations and public affairs firm based in Fort Worth. He brings 30 years of professional public and private sector experience in the areas of public affairs, governmental relations, strategic communications, business management, and organizational leadership. Montgomery thrives on engagement in the local business and government conversation and enjoys connecting people across a spectrum of disciplines to ensure the sum is always greater than the parts.
Montgomery is a longtime Tarrant County resident and an active member of the community. He serves on the Board of Managers for the Tarrant County Hospital District (JPS Health Network) and was appointed to the local Continuum of Care Board of Directors (addressing homeless issues) by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.
BUSINESS LESSON NO. 4
Greg Head has been a leader in the software and technology business for 30 years. Part of the startup-to-scale stages of three companies that have since created more than $2 billion in total revenue in the CRM software industry, Head was an early employee and product manager for ACT!, the best-selling Windows contact manager in the ’90s that was eventually used by four million salespeople. Additionally, he was co-founder and marketing leader of SalesLogix, the first mid-market CRM software, which went public in 1999 and was bought by Sage PLC (LON: SGE) in 2001 for $300 million. In addition, Head was President and General Manager of ACT! with more than 200 global employees from 1999 through 2004. Later he became Chief Marketing Officer at Infusionsoft where growth soared from $15 million to $100 million while he was there. Now Head is the CEO of Scaling Point and founder of Gregslist.com.
BUSINESS LESSON NO. 5
Logan Speights is a highly accomplished senior executive, entrepreneur, board member, consultant, and mentor with more than 20 years of success. Leveraging extensive experience in tech, marketing, and advertising, Speights transforms organizations through their leadership team.
At his core, he’s a builder. Speights has helped to found multiple businesses, as well as a ministry. The building doesn’t stop there though: For fun, he builds everything from cabinets to furniture and chicken coops to horse paddocks. He would say, “Building anything is building something!” As for the future, Speights believes that human-assisted technology, such as he is implementing at Proxxy, is the only answer. That tech will be a centerpiece of anything he builds going forward.
Speights is a founder and CTO in Proxxy, which provides remote Chief of Staff services to the country’s leading SMB executives. Proxxy aims to give time back to these busy clients by managing administrative tasks, while also introducing best practices and strategic initiatives designed for their client’s growth stage.
Speights and his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Speights, own TripleEights, where they focus on COOs, CTOs, and CMOs along with special projects. They provide interim and fractional executive services. Speights believes staff augmentation is a better way to impact a company than outsourcing to an agency.
BUSINESS LESSON NO. 6
With more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Lei Testa provides a breadth of knowledge having worked across the continuum with independent physician practices, accountable care organizations, health systems, and health plans. Truly passionate about her work, she’s a strategic business partner who identifies the complex, financial, operational, and technical issues while developing comprehensive solutions to enhance a client’s business operations. Testa aims to deliver optimal management oversight and is respected for her broad industry knowledge, leadership, and her ability to clearly communicate complex information.
Prior to joining CLA, Testa was an executive at McKesson, where she served as Regional Senior Vice President, Executive Director, Regional Finance Director, and State Controller during her 11 years.
BUSINESS LESSON NO. 7
Diego Alvarado has more than 15 years of experience in operations and technology, working with companies throughout Latin America, Europe, and the U.S. An expert in helping companies run their operations, his technique uses three pillars: people, process, and technology. Alvardo says his main goal is to make business operations simple, easy, and productive using tech. “If you don’t see order in the way that your business is run, if you are overwhelmed with running your operations, if you don’t know where to start looking for improvements, or if your company is growing, and you don’t know how to operate the growth, he’s your go-to guy,” the founder says.
BUSINESS LESSON NO. 8
After an 18 year career as a VP of sales and sales manager for a Berkshire Hathaway company, Lairson made the transition to serve businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth community. Considered a high performer at all levels within the organization, from individual contributor to branch manager to regional sales manager and finally VP of sales, Lairson honed his skills in how to develop and implement a strategic direction for each market he was involved in and “yielded significant returns.”
Coupled with the experienced team of 360 Consulting, Brandon brings value to help other small and medium-sized companies navigate their strategic position in the marketplace and yield their own significant returns.
BUSINESS LESSON NO. 9
John Burt has been a professional in sales, marketing, and business development for more than 20 years. He brings a wealth of knowledge in these areas to clients helping them grow their business and increase sales. He’s also a Texas High School football official, officiating more than 1000 games and 20 playoff games in his 25-year career.
His unique, proven selling system gets results: He helps add some balance to a routine and provides small adjustments with skills, knowledge, and goal setting. Burt helps sales, leadership, and first-line managers grow the bottom line.
BUSINESS LESSON NO. 10
Zais is a highly-motivated business leader with a passion for Leadership Development, Change Management, and Operational Excellence. Currently the senior vice president of Ready Mix at Martin Marietta, he has full P&L responsibility for a $700M+ Ready Mix operation with more than 100 plants and 1,300 employees. Zais is responsible for strategy development and implementation to meet safety, financial, and market-based performance objectives.
Prior to his current role, he was VP at TXI where he had full P&L responsibility for the Ready-Mix Division within a vertically-integrated cement, aggregate, and concrete organization. Zais implemented advanced technology and programs to improve the safety performance, development, and execution of the mid-range strategic growth plan. He also executed acquisitions and divestitures to restructure market positions and implemented numerous programs to improve efficiencies and cost profile at the company.
TechFW says its mentors have “generously offered up their time and expertise because they care about helping startup founders.” Go here for more information on the MCrew mentor program.
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