The end goal is always a motivator, but if you don’t enjoy the journey, don’t bother as the climb will encompass infinitely more of your time than reaching the peak.
Phillip Patrick is an aspiring technology entrepreneur and 2012 graduate from the University of South Carolina. He has spent the past 5 years attaining the highest honors awarded as a President’s Club member at Fortune 1000 (#653) technology distributor, ScanSource, Inc. He began developing Emerge Inc in the summer of 2016 after initially starting it during his final year of school with the help of co-founder Sean Strub. The pair went on to vet and become graduates of the 2nd Greenville, South Carolina cohort of the renowned international entrepreneurial incubator, Founder Institute, a 4-month facilitator designed to build profitable and enduring companies of various types.
Where did the idea for Emerge Inc. come from?
Emerge truly started as an idea from the exposure (or lack thereof) of my own recruiting process throughout high school. I had originally committed to play collegiate soccer at Wofford but was forced to pivot in the very late stages after becoming an early enrollee. From that point, there was no real solution to in a short timeframe, expose myself in a way that would truly help me further my soccer career. I went on to play for two years at Spartanburg Methodist College, a junior college power while planning my next moves. As I “burned out” somewhat on my sport at that point, I transitioned into the University of South Carolina (Columbia) where the “pool” of people I met and talent grew infinitely larger from being a state flagship school. Hearing the stories of players who I befriended and their missed opportunities or lack thereof cause me to begin investigating the holes that seemed to litter the recruiting process.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day for myself, especially at this stage, is a true “work day” following the 8-5 type of mold. In developing a company, there is never a shortage of things to do, so the first portion of my day is usually around planning in order for us to operate at a high level and not “get lost in the weeds” if you will. It becomes the balance of polish versus progress.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The only way to bring anything to life is through action and structure. The greatest inhibitor of most people executing their dreams typically is themselves. As Antoine De Saint-Expuery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” The world is never short on brilliance or great ideas, but few ever proceed to give themselves the structure or planning to move them forward.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I personally am very interested and very captivated by all things AI presently. MIT announcing their 1-Billion-dollar investment into an AI university only will propel this growing trend and its uses from day to day to commercial in the coming future. If you have not had the opportunity to work or train AI, even if in a very limited capacity, I encourage you to find a member who could let you tinker so to speak. From projections to dialogue to suggestive selling to data management, the possibilities are only limited to what a person can think to teach it. How people will continue to weave its functionality into the IOT should prove for an extremely interesting next couple of years on the technology front.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
READ! Or listen to audio books. It is so easy to get lost in the day to day life presented to many of us now. The entrepreneurial spirit is based around innovation. Things that haven’t been done. Something you would have to explain or teach to another person. Just because a person becomes a “teacher” in something, doesn’t mean they ever should stop learning. Books are our greatest teacher. Someone else’s words, thoughts, experiences that you personally have never seen as they are unique to another. Part of separation or “escalation” if that is your concern in the world, is having a better understanding of it. You can’t teach who you don’t know and you can’t grow if you are concerned with only teaching. My greatest habit isn’t anything unique to me. It isn’t something that makes me special. I just still want to read. To learn. To grow.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would advise my younger self and my current self to remember to have patience in progress. I am wired so that I prefer to do things, do them now, and do them well. Simple enough. Realistically, now is not always feasible, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t progressing. They say patience is a virtue and one that I still need to continue polishing as I age. Freight trucks don’t turn on a dime. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And ultimately, successful companies are not built overnight. The end goal is always a motivator, but if you don’t enjoy the journey, don’t bother as the climb will encompass infinitely more of your time than reaching the peak.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You are better off compartmentalizing out tasks at a time rather than multitasking. While I personally pride myself as a strong multitasker, I have quickly learned that spreading yourself thin amongst tasks caused the product to suffer and anxiety to rise.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Remind yourself of why you started. It is easy to get lost inside tasks, motivations, and thoughts on your journey of developing a company. One of the better phrases I was ever told was that “if your why matters enough, how will never matter.” The impossible becomes possible. The difficult becomes feasible. Dreams become reality and progress is ultimately made.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Horde talent. That is something that we have been able to do in spades when we began assembling our core team. One of our greatest strengths is the diversification in skillsets available to us. From marketing gurus to business savvy negotiators, to highly spoken of veterans of the industry, to developers, to financial analysts. We have piecemealed and incredibly eclectic group, but due to our diversification, we are lethal in being able to handle most situations without relying on third parties. I always believed that if you are the smartest person in the room (or even feel that way), it is time to find a new room. Fortunately, at Emerge, we actively poach some of the top talent available and protect it to make us a very disruptive and dangerous up-and-comer in the space.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When Sean and myself originally started Emerge, we were thrusting ourselves as, in the eyes of corporate America, two youths attempting to break into a multi-billion dollar industry. Needless to say, skepticism reigns supreme until you truly are able to display your merit, a tall ask in a startup company. We really first encountered such when we decided to run the concept through famed incubator the Founder Institute (fi.co). For those unfamiliar, think of a high-level MBA program centered around developing an entrepreneurial idea and validating the concept. While they took us under their wing, our initial presentations in the eyes of high-level minds we were not prepared for the “big time stage” quite yet. To have different styles of thinking tear up the idea in places that you had thoroughly believed in was incredibly tough. It became a lesson in managing expectations, stomaching pride, broadening horizons, accepting critical feedback and embracing the need at times to pivot slightly. All of which became lessons that we carried right through “graduation” as part of the second cohort to be hosted out of Greenville, South Carolina.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Since everyone is on the recurring revenue train of thought these days, I will throw a penny into that bucket. Presently, for the large metropolitan cities (New York City, Chicago, etc). Approach the respective city to purchase their legacy and existing phone booths. These are a dead technology that many will be quick to part with as their “value” is seen as a spot for marketing at best. I encourage you to buy a batch of them and then proceed to install a wireless access point of your choice (Ubiquiti is the most affordable commercial at a consumer price) underneath the booth itself. This allows you to purchase an indoor rated access point as it is secured and protected by the overhang of the booth. The phone booths themselves are already wired from their legacy job as a true phone so no infrastructure needs to be laid down. From there, you can “plug them in” and sell the wireless network given off for public use back to the respective city, ultimately paying yourself off relatively quickly with future recurring revenue ahead.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
This one is tied a little more to taking advantage of a scenario. Once upon a time prior to a craze, there was a currency being developed called Bitcoin. While the craze took the nation by storm, early enough in the game, I threw just over 100 dollars into it. From there I was fortunate enough to watch the craze and demand unfold as the value multiplied and partially began helping fund Emerge.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I will confess, I am a big fan of Grammarly. For those of you who don’t know, it is a program purchased (premium version) that is embedded on your device and runs in the background. It serves as the ultimate grammatical corrective and instructive tool. Not only does it assist in polishing anything you work within (browsers, programs, outlook, etc), but the AI takes it a step further with a suggestive measure to take such as, “this was spoken passively and may ultimately detract from your message through a lack of confidence. Consider ____”. While not everything is ideal, for those who “live” within their email, it is fabulous as it allows at times for the emotional reader/responder to be monitored somewhat and allow for that second opinion on whether something is truly beneficial to send or not.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I encourage everyone to read “Rich Dad Poor Dad” by Robert T. Kyosaki. While there are numerous lessons to be learned from this book ranging from understanding choices in life to reinforcing the education doesn’t end at school, one of the greatest things an entrepreneur can pick up is the art of mastering your emotions when you are dealing with money. People are as prideful, possessive, interested and defensive of their money as anything in this world. This book allows you to begin to analyze different solutions rather than let the emotions that stem from your financial situation drive you. I believe this to be an important lesson for any up and comer or entrepreneur as money management in the infant stages of any company is absolutely critical. It is tough to make a million dollars overnight, but you can certainly set yourself back a million dollars.
What is your favorite quote?
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw
- It will never be overstated enough, but patience is a virtue.
- Even after school, you never stop or should seek to stop being a “student”.
- If you don’t enjoy the process, then stop now. You reap what you sew, but many people don’t enjoy the sewing process. 90% of the company will be in the “building” stages so you cannot afford to dislike that portion.
- Compartmentalize tasks, for increased efficiencies.
- Never forget your “why”.