Steve Mezak – Founder and CEO of Accelerance

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To bring ideas to life, I think it’s critical to begin with research and planning, then look for collaboration partners and resources to help.

Steve Mezak is the Founder and CEO of Accelerance, Inc., a leader in global software development outsourcing. In this role, he oversees Accelerance’s overall operations, drives strategy for business development and leads the cultivation and recruitment of international partner firms. A technical entrepreneur and internationally recognized outsourcing expert and speaker, Steve has more than 30 years of experience in the IT industry, moving from writing software code to facilitating and managing software development teams and budgets.

Steve came up with Accelerance’s business idea based on his own experience working with an outsourced programming team in Russia in 1998. Then he realized there was no easy way to find qualified engineering firms overseas. He founded Accelerance in 2001 with the goal of helping clients find and select an outsourced partner firm that best serves their technical needs and aligns with their corporate culture. Steve has spent the last 15 years traveling the globe and interviewing thousands of software development teams to build Accelerance’s network of partner firms.

Prior to Accelerance, Steve co-founded and served as CEO of SendOrder.com, Inc., a B2B e-commerce site. Before that, he served as Vice President of Technical Services at Digital Market, Inc., an online marketplace for electronic parts that was acquired by Agile Software in 1999. He also co-founded and served as the Director of Engineering at Aspect Development, Inc., a B2B software development company that was acquired by i2 Technologies in 2000.

Throughout his career, Steve has guided hundreds of software and IT executives through the strategic advantages of outsourcing their software development. He is also the author of Software without Borders: A Step-By-Step Guide to Outsourcing Your Software Development.

Steve earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. He is the proud father of five children, two of whom served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and enjoys recreational water sports including wakeboarding and wakesurfing.

Where did the idea for Accelerance come from?

The idea for Accelerance came from working with Indian developers in Silicon Valley and then a Russian software development team in St. Petersburg. These teams were terrific, and after struggling to hire software developers locally, I realized that American companies really need help finding additional resources and talent in other parts of the world.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I became an early riser 10 years ago when I wrote my first book. Early morning was the most productive and quiet time for my writing. Now, it gets me an early start on my day which includes a quick review of my priorities (what Stephen Covey describes as “rocks”) and my to-do list to focus on the most important tasks. We have a 1.5-hour executive team meeting every Monday which helps us to address issues all at once and remain productive the rest of the week.

How do you bring ideas to life?

To bring ideas to life, I think it’s critical to begin with research and planning, then look for collaboration partners and resources to help. For example, for our new web application, I created a vision document and then hired partner companies for user experience design and then software development.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The growth of English speaking around the world that makes it easy to do business globally.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Healthy eating habits and exercise to reduce stress.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

The worst job I ever had was in high school when I dressed up as Frankenstein, and I scared people in a fun house on the boardwalk at the Jersey Shore. Not exactly a job that provided lasting value!

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

If I were to start again, I would make sure I brought on board a business partner sooner. It’s too hard to do everything on your own, and if you can’t convince a friend to work with you on a good idea, how will you convince customers?

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

One thing that I recommend everyone else do is to outsource to companies that are experts at what you need – marketing, software development, writing, etc. None of these are likely to be the core competency of your company, so it’s important to be able to pass the job along to an expert.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Our business is based on relationships and personal connections. Having a strong online presence is very important, but we can’t rely solely on good client prospects to find us via our website. So, word of mouth and being able to build strong connections has become the core of our business.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I had a dot-com company I had to shut down in 2000 after the downturn. The major failure of that company was not having a good (actually any!) sales and marketing plan. I now believe it is critical to understand your customer’s pains and challenges and exactly how your product or service solves them.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Our company would use some way to send gifts around the world without having to deal with physically sending them and dealing with the cost and red tape of customs in various countries. I imagine it to be a central clearing house of ordering gifts from high-status and reputable companies in countries like India, Philippines, Ukraine, Argentina, etc.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

We got a license for Ecquire to capture personal information from LinkedIn and store it within Salesforce.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I am the Microsoft Windows and Office guy in the company… I know, not the coolest thing in the world, but I do have an iPhone! We use Hubspot for our website and Salesforce.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Although it’s tough to choose just one book that I recommend, I would have to say that “Get a Grip,” a business fable about implementing a business management process has been transformative for our company.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Vivek Wadhwa – http://wadhwa.com/
Ron Lichty – http://www.ronlichty.com/
Roy Williams – http://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/

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