Large corporations and venture capital (VC)-backed startups exist in parallel universes. I have lived in both of them, observing that both require extraordinary work ethic and dedication while offering intense career growth. But despite their similarities, there are minimal connections between these two universes. That said, my time in the corporate world prepared me exceptionally well for a career as a VC-backed startup C-suite executive.
For GreenGoose the journey from Oregon to Providence, RI to Kendall Square in Cambridge and finally to the inaugural Launch Conference, held on 23-24 of February at the San Francisco Design Concourse, has been an intense and ultimately rewarding one. From Betaspring to mentoring from Bill Warner at the Cambridge Innovation Center to now back to Oregon and San Francisco, his is the classic entrepreneurial story of how hard work, frugality, determination to see your vision realized and confronting your fears all combine to produce a successful outcome. For a young entrepreneur like Brian, having the support of a group of mentors and advisors along the way gave him the courage and confidence to keep moving forward despite moments of self-doubt.
Flashback to 1995. Marc Andreessen, a recent University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana graduate and cofounder of the startup Netscape, was committed to providing access to the internet for the common person. Netscape launched the Mosaic web browser, which opened up internet access to people outside of the defense, scientific research and academic communities.
During that era, very few people understood what havoc was about to be unleashed by connecting company networks to the internet. My startup, Raptor Systems, was one of the very first commercial cybersecurity vendors. As the company’s chief marketing officer, I was tasked with educating the market on inherent risks, while positioning Raptor as the vendor of choice for early adopters in this nascent market.
As far back as Plato and Socrates, prior generations have lamented the lack of dedication in their successors. Today, discussions surrounding the work ethic of current generations echo the lamentations of these early Greek philosophers, though much of it is baseless. In many ways, the media has drawn artificial distinctions between the millennial generation and Gen Z. Based on my extensive observations and interactions, as a professor and an employer of our future leaders, I think of them as Gen G, or the global generation. Employers who do not properly understand and appreciate this remarkable cohort will never adequately address the skills gap that faces the U.S.
Entrepreneurship is the equivalent of running a marathon at the speed of the 100-yard dash with high hurdles everywhere along the track. To call it challenging is an understatement of epic proportions. For every gushing article celebrating the successes of the next generation of entrepreneurs, those few companies who successfully raise money on Shark Tank, or even the endless stream of coverage documenting the breathtaking success of the chosen few (Google, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Dropbox), there are countless other companies that never achieve lift-off despite heroic efforts, or that crash and burn after early success. For every Facebook, there are ten thousand failures.
A little acknowledgment can go a long way.
“When people feel that their work is appreciated and that they are supported, they are fed or energized by their work as opposed to feeling exhausted by it,” said Mike Grandinetti, CMO, and CSO at data management and protection provider Reduxio.
Startup culture requires an incredibly specific and unique personality — one that carries a large appetite for juggling multiple roles with the ability to thrive in a volatile environment while remaining relentlessly focused on the company’s vision and mission. Shows like HBO’s Silicon Valley provide a look into the emotional roller coaster that comes with life at a startup.
To take on the role of CMO at a startup is to take on even greater responsibilities. This position demands a keen ability to liaise between the company and the marketplace.
If you were to judge what is happening with gender discrimination and sexual harassment for female founders and entrepreneurs based on what you’ve read in the news, or have seen the many disheartening research studies and articles about the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley, you’d be likely to have drawn a cynical conclusion.
To be truly innovative, “multiple, highly diverse perspectives are crucial,” said Mike Grandinetti, chief marketing and corporate strategy officer at Reduxio Systems. “At Reduxio, we place great value on a fundamental principle: that the best results come from an intellectually stimulating, collaborative environment with highly empowered teams with lots of autonomy.”
“Many of our customers tell us that they are under continuous attack,” says Reduxio’s chief marketing and corporate strategy officer Mike Grandinetti. “We are now seeing globally coordinated attacks by hostile foreign governments. For example, US Intelligence has established with 100% certainty that the highly publicised WannaCry virus, which took down Honda, Maersk, FedEx and the UK NHS, was perpetrated by the rogue government of North Korea.”
Mike Grandinetti explains why diversity is at the core of his hiring strategy
For Reduxio’s CMO, diversity is key to building a winning marketing organization