We try to stay focused on solving client problems first and foremost. If we make their businesses succeed, we believe our company will also prosper.
Tom brings 20+ years of technology experience to 4-Tell after previously serving as the CEO of AkeLex (a healthcare analytics company) and the CRO of ShopIgniter – a venture-backed social commerce provider.
Given his years of experience in the e-commerce industry, Tom has an acute understanding of retail misgivings that have led to subsequent market departures, the strategy and tools that are shaping future market winners and the role fluid and personalized customer experiences will have in fueling long-term sustainable growth for B2B and B2C companies, specifically by driving customer loyalty and employee engagement.
Where did the idea for 4-Tell come from?
In 2009, our founders felt certain data-driven product merchandising in the form of personalized recommendations would be an expected capability of any online merchant. At the same time, we always imagined that the power of our machine-learning and data strategies would enable client-telling, improve store labor performance, and transform the shopping experience for the better.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I spend most of my day with customers translating their ideas into our product and business roadmap. Then it’s all about our people and the areas we are looking to make strategic investments.
How do you bring ideas to life?
This is always easier said than done, but we try to stay focused on solving client problems first and foremost. If we make their businesses succeed, we believe our company will also prosper.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am super excited about the idea of improving sales performance. Enabling sales teams (retail or business) has been a constant arc in my career. While CRM platforms have helped everyone in the business improve resource planning and business forecasting, sales reps have still had to carry the load of data entry. Analytics platforms, like 4-Tell’s, have the potential to really lift sales productivity by tracking critical signals from ready customers almost before they know they need to buy. This would fulfill the real promise of technology.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I read a ton. Everyday all day.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be patient. I have an inherent urgency that can create stress for my teams when the answer is often just around the corner. I work on this daily.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Retail stores are not going anywhere. The doomsayers and retail apocalypse advocates are way out over their skies. I also think Facebook is dead inside of 10 years. Change is a simple and inevitable part of life. New store concepts will solve for modern consumer needs and social networks will radically adjust away from polarizing news feeds.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Continuously look to improve your product and service organization.Today’s customers’ demand rapid change. Fulfilling these expectations requires our teams to move faster and be more in tune than ever.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Look out 3-5 years and then concentrate on the now. We do this by challenging our forward-looking assumptions while testing the proposed changes on today’s market needs and our customers ability to consume our vision. This gives us a clear and motivating company vision that is then grounded in reality.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Transitioning from startup to scale is always challenging. I don’t know if I have fully overcome some of the failures of my past, but I do feel more prepared to address the issues now and in the future.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Social lounges at Airports where all technology is banned in favor of physical books, newspapers, or some good old fashioned conversation. The airport was once the most social place on earth and now everyone is just staring at their phone. I believe this area of the airport would be a huge success.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I ended up buying a used Vespa for net $100 and it has proven to be a magical purchase. You experience the city in a totally different way than by car or bike and my wife and I love riding around together. Beats couples therapy hands down… 🙂
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I have been re-reading Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. Simply an amazing view into the future and the impact math and predictive analytics would have on society. So much of it rings more true today than ever.
What is your favorite quote?
“There is no such thing as an overnight success.” – Tory Burch
In today’s digital world, companies seem to come out of nowhere with much acclaim and financial reward for their founders. But if drill down even one layer deep, you will find a team that grinded for years on that idea.
– Read early and often. Information is the starting point of any real change and business success. Today’s knowledge work is an exercise in data gathering, synthesization, and rearticulation.
– There is a critical balance to be achieved around urgency and patience.
– Success is some balance / combination of our core capabilities, our inspiration for the topic, and the discipline we apply to move the work forward. Finding the right combination is critical to sustained success.
– Put your phones down and be present in the world. There is so much to see, enjoy, and experience.