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Former Tyco Executive Discusses Team Building for Startup Intecrowd

on October 28, 2016 / by Daniel Lofaso ,


intecrowdDon McDougal is a former Tyco executive turned entrepreneur with over 25 years’ experience in the IT field. I interviewed him recently to get an idea of what his company, Intecrowd, is all about, the transition from international corporation to startup life, and team building advice for creating a winning company.

McDougal mentions his business relationship with Workday throughout the interview. Workday is an international company that offers enterprise-level software solutions for human resource and financial management.

Please provide some specifics about Intecrowd:

  • What it is/does. Don McDougal: We are a Workday Partner providing integration services between Workday and 3rd party systems.  Additionally, we have a product line we are developing which streamlines Workday Integration development and management.
  • How you made the decision to create it. I have been in the IT/Systems business my entire 25+ year career, and am fascinated with cloud technology and the disruption it is driving, and particularly Workday with its Multi-tenant architecture.  After the Workday rollout out at Tyco I knew I wanted to stay in the Workday Ecosystem.  As I considered my options, a unique opportunity presented itself, which was to create a boutique Workday partnership.  Obtaining a Workday partnership is almost impossible to do now, and I am very grateful to have this opportunity.
  • What your end goal is with the company. Our MISSION is: “Build a powerful company that satisfies our clients through the successful implementation, integration and operation of cloud-based systems; that delivers a strong return for shareholders; and takes care of our employees.”   We are very open with our employees, that the company exists to provide employment for the founders and employees to allow them to take care of themselves and their families.”  We review one of our guiding principles each staff meeting to make sure we don’t lose sight of this.
  • Your relationship with Workday and the need you are filling with your partnership. We are a services partner that is ALSO developing products that support Workday and help Workday customers get the most value out of their systems.
  • You mentioned you are the only boutique company in the space. Can you provide some specifics on that? They have directed us specifically to make Workday Integrations, Better, Faster and Cheaper. We also collaborate with Workday to discuss: challenges customers face, our ideas for new products etc.  No other Workday Partner has this specific mandate.

IntrcrowdBriefly, discuss the contrast between the corporate world versus the startup world:

What are the pros and cons of each in terms of business progression and innovation? Pros:  We can make decisions very quickly to hire, develop a new product etc.  The Corporate World moves much slower on these things. It is refreshing to be agile, innovative and not be restricted by heavy process, policy and bureaucracy.  Being your own boss can be very liberating AND at times terrifying. Example: in less than a week, we have: Identified a new market, developed a conceptual architecture, conducted relevant market research, and made the decision to build a new product. That just doesn’t happen at large corporations.

Cons: Large established organizations have mature sales teams, finance, accounting, operational systems, product development etc. These are powerful resources that I took for granted when I was working for large corporations. Large companies have resources, investors, capital etc., which allow the company to ride out down market cycles.  This is very hard to do in a small startup.

What do you like most about being involved in a startup?

Working with like-minded, very smart people with integrity and great energy.

What are the roles you thought you’d play in the startup world versus the roles you actually play?

I envisioned myself as technology innovator, building better business practices, etc.  I have done very little of this so far, although I have been involved in the design of some of our new products, which has been very fulfilling. What I actually spend my time on is raising capital, investor relations and business development. I remember a former CEO saying he spent much of his time with investors, and I thought that sounded strange, but it certainly has been my experience.

Team Building 

I have learned that I have to hire people who are smarter, faster, more specialized and generally more capable than me. Sometimes I even have to pay them more than I pay myself, and it has always been worth it in the long run

Intecrowd was initially 100% owned by you, then you decided to bring on a Board of Directors and share equity. Can you provide some details about that decision-making process?

Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned in business, is that I can’t do it all, I need good help. Early in my career, I would pride myself in being the strongest, most skilled engineer on my team. I have learned that I have to hire people who are smarter, faster, more specialized and generally more capable than me. Sometimes I even have to pay them more than I pay myself, and it has always been worth it in the long run. I have never been on a BOD before, I have never organized one etc. Bringing in people who have done this before has been extremely helpful.

Can you provide insight into what other entrepreneurs might want to consider when building a BOD:

What type of people did you choose for your board and why? People who have been on, and ran BODs, people who have led startups, people who have raised capital, people who are experts in business operations etc.

How complimentary are they to your skillsets? Skillsets are very complimentary.  I know our market and the specific offerings we are bringing to market. I didn’t know how to raise capital, handle financial engineering etc.  I did not know many people in the investor community, and have relied heavily on the BOD to help with this.

How much ownership do you think is a good amount for a BOD member? It varies widely, depending on what they bring, how much time they spend, the value they have etc.

How often do you meet? We meet in person quarterly, and have at least one meeting by phone each week.

How does the decision-making process differ from that of the corporate world with your team? I speculate that the process is similar, you look for people who can complement the CEO, who have specific domain expertise, who are connected in your market etc.

You mentioned company culture is extremely important to you. How and why did you develop these principles for team building? I think it is crucial, in lasting success and in attracting and retaining the right talent.

What are the guiding cultural principles of Intecrowd?

MISSION

  • Build a powerful company that satisfies our clients through the successful implementation, integration and operation of cloud-based systems; that delivers a strong return for shareholders; and takes care of our employees.

VALUES

People

Teamwork

Thinking and acting strategically

Innovation

Trust

Agility

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • We focus on delivering superior value and increased marginal utility to our customers
  • We take care of and protect our partnerships
  • We strive for excellence in all of our efforts
  • We are totally committed to quality and continuous improvement
  • We pursue strategic knowledge
  • Work should be an enjoyable part of a well-rounded life
  • Integrity is never compromised
  • We believe in treating all individuals as we wish to be treated

One of the things I have learned from Workday, is to give employees equity in the company.  It fosters a team environment and helps retain talent.

You said loyalty comes from flexibility and good pay. Can you elaborate on this?

Our model is we work remotely. Sometimes we are at a customer’s location, but most of the time we work from home. This gives people back 1-2 hours a day for commute time alone. We also pay well, with average 100K+ annual salaries plus benefits.

Your team members get equity in the company. How does this influence their motivation and belief in the product?

One of the things I have learned from Workday, is to give employees equity in the company.  It fosters a team environment and helps retain talent.

Would you encourage other entrepreneurs to provide the same type of equity stake?

Yes

Funding

Almost all of our funding so far has come from Florida investors.

One of the most interesting things you mentioned that may surprise a lot of Floridians is that Intecrowd has managed to gain most of its funding from within Florida. Companies tend to think that they need to go to Silicon Valley, New York, or elsewhere, but you’ve proven that Florida is and can be a great resource.

Yes, almost all of our funding so far has come from Florida investors. The Florida Institute for Commercialization and Research (FICPR) and the FAN Fund have been very supportive.  Additionally, there are many investors who live in Florida who either have their businesses here, or who have retired and moved here. There are many retired Corporate Executives in Florida who have money and who are now investors.

One of your Board Members has lots of funding-related relationships in the state. How do you suggest a startup goes about leveraging relationships like that and asking for money?

I have found it extremely helpful to have BOD members and advisors who are connected to the investment community. We successfully completed our first capital raise, which was close to $2M; it set the framework for our current capital raise of $10M and understanding the valuation process; including how the offering was structured, building on the initial round and scalability.

You mentioned you think a lot of funding in Florida exists because people and companies really care about building up the state. Where is this stemming from?

Great question.  I think people move and live here because they love Florida.  That’s why I live here.  It has been a great place to raise a family, the cost of living is reasonable compared to the North East or West Coast, and we have great weather, golf and beaches. Building up our local businesses will provide jobs to our community, children and grandchildren. I sure hope my kids will stay in Florida.

What is your greatest piece of startup advice you can provide based on your experience?

Don’t be afraid to share equity with talented and passionate people who can help you build the business and make it successful.

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Former Tyco Executive Discusses Team Building for Startup Intecrowd