As an entrepreneur, your first priority is in creating a mindset that fosters the development of new ideas.
Nick is Co-Founder/Chief Executive Officer at Progressly, championing the company’s mission towards becoming the new standard for how teams find and execute business processes. He previously served as RelateIQ’s Head of User Success & Business Operations, which was acquired by Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM) in August 2014 as the first automatic and intelligent CRM solution. Prior to moving to Silicon Valley, Nick led Operations at Crimson Hexagon, a Boston-based social media insights company which was the first to partner with Twitter in understanding brand sentiment. His prior roles oversaw Product and Sales providing technology solutions to the Pharmaceutical industry, which was riddled with paper standard operating procedures.
Clarence Wooten and Nick founded Progressly to address how large industries operate, innovate, and share around core business processes. With younger, agile workforces, the need to move away from paper processes and drive engagement and real-time insights was a critical unmet need. Across major enterprise categories, Progressly’s long-term vision is to enable operators to adopt proven best practices across a shared community.
Where did the idea for Progressly come from?
My career started off in the pharmaceutical industry. We were building technology to manage the clinical development lifecycle and everything was run according to paper Standard Operating Procedures defined by our company and in accordance with regulatory requirements. It provided a unique insight around how traditional industries operate – riddled with siloed information and fragmented tools. The idea for Progressly start at that point and continued to develop.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Each day, I’ll spend time across three major priorities: Capital, Vision, and Talent. As a CEO, your first priority is the keep the lights on and steward funds in a way that allows your organization to thrive. Vision is about ensuring there is strategic alignment across the business and using your product as the representation of you brand. And the value of people speaks for itself. Nothing great is ever done alone and we’ve invested a tremendous amount in building our team for the long haul.
How do you bring ideas to life?
As an entrepreneur, your first priority is in creating a mindset that fosters the development of new ideas. It’s easy to dismiss ideas without first trying to understand another perspective. Once you’ve decided that an idea has merit, there is a careful planning process from time allocation to success validation.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
IT Spend Optimization: now that cloud technologies have been broadly adopted and are generally accepted for advantages tied to cost, flexibility, and security, more organizations are reevaluating legacy software solutions. This opens up a tremendous opportunity for innovative SaaS companies to disrupt incumbent players and win on value delivery in what has traditionally been the late majority.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Fitness allows for me to carve out time for deliberate thinking and manage stress levels. It’s a daily habit that helps me to sharpen the saw.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
Throughout my childhood, I was always working several jobs and most were not glamorous. I’m a big fan of the adage that opportunity looks a lot like work, but my most taxing job was working construction for my father. Ultimately I learned the sense of responsibility it takes to run your own business successfully.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
People are a fundamental component to every successful business, so more time recruiting in a few critical areas. In that same vein, I’d make a more significant investment in marketing strategy and positioning during the first year.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Listen: your one fundamental responsibility is to make decisions that will allow for you and your team to be successful. There are a lot of moving parts in any business and it’s impossible to see it all yourself. Ask for feedback and see if you can connect the dots.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
From a very early point, we defined our company’s vision, mission, and values. With each new hire, we anchor around the values that we believe in, which is a winning strategy in keeping the talent caliber consistently high (but in the right areas).
#Team over individual
#Transparency over politics
#Execution over stagnation
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Early on, I dealt with a lack of personal/professional balance. As our company scales, we’ve been fortunate to attract strong teammates and trust them to make decisions in shaping Progressly. If ever you’ve made a poor decision (or recognize a cascading effect), it’s refreshing and genuine for your team to know that you’ll course correct without ego interfering – it’s how I’d describe leading a productive organization.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’m not sure I have an idea I’m willing to give away!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Paid for dinner with my family. Time is the most valuable commodity and investing in experiences has always been my mindset.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
My daily routine involves software for fitness, work, finance, and leisure. Dependent on the overall application, I’m generally a fan of simplicity and depth of solution.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
It does a great job to depicting realistic scenarios tied to the entrepreneur’s journey. David Beirne, a mentor of mine, is also referenced in this book.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Aim for a constant stream of learning in the form of networking, attending conferences, reading new books, and following thought leaders.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.