Terry’s Formula for Success

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Looks like one of those milestones that always alluded my old boss Terry Matthews is about to happen. He’s going to get his own baseball card. Well actually it’s a trading-card but in any event I’m sure it was on Terry’s list of 100 things to get done this year so – Congrats to him, and thanks to Paul Kedrosky who sponsored Terry for the honour. Nice to see a Canadian made the list.

One of the cool things about having worked with Terry over the past five years was getting to know his ‘voice’ or Terry-isms as I used to say. You can always tell when a quote of his was edited by someone before it was printed or edited after Terry had first written it or if it was said on the fly. I’m guilty of having helped ‘adjust’ his voice at least once or twice before a third-party got an answer. I thought of this recently when I read Bruce Firestones recent OBJ article on the New Venture program that Terry started with my boss Greg Vanclief and the programs director Andrew Fisher. Its excellent to see that people are now coming around to an idea that once was derided as ‘Terry’s pet projects.’

Essentially, the idea is that Wesley Clover…

instead of waiting for proposals and ideas to come to them from outside their huge watershed (which includes clients, customers and suppliers of March Networks, Mitel, DragonWave, Bridgewater Systems and many other companies in their diverse portfolio, plus strategic partners such as Telus, SaskTel and Vodafone), they generate them internally.

This has been Wesley Clovers more active investment space starting back in late 2006, while I was there and up to today. This following list is probably the most concise way of describing the rules Wesley Clover has played by to take advantage of these internally generated ideas of new investment:

1. Early attachment to the customer;

2. Follow the fastest (least effort) route to revenue;

3. Be consistent with enterprise goals;

4. Team-focused – superstars park your egos at the door;

5. Follow your mentor’s advice;

6. Create a great business first and cool technology second;

7. Keep your costs down;

8. Leverage the investment with government grants and other people’s money;

9. Follow a global mandate – Canada is too small to be the primary focus;

10. Go after every geography and every vertical.

Wesley Clover initially hires new grads (the tax incentives help) but we looked for particular traits in how we looked to build out the teams. You could tell that try as one might the Terry-isms are there (particularly with B, C, and H) in his list for what he looks for in the new entrepreneurs.

a) A strong work ethic;

b) If they came from a large family and had to scrap for things;

c) How much their parents did for them at a young age;

d) How good their communications skills are;

e) If they have some humility about them and can they learn;

f) If they can network with everyone;

g) If they can create positive outcomes from each meeting;

h) If they can sell.

To check out some of the companies that have launched recently under this model check out the Wesley Clover Technologies website. Bruce came out with a great article and its fun to see the model so well laid out for people to figure out one of Terry’s Formula’s for Success – it certainly shows we were thinking Y-Combinator -like before it became fashionable.

The Author

Hi. My name is Matt Roberts, you can find me at www.mattroberts.com.

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