Born between May 20 and June 20 – the astrological sign of Gemini, defined by the duality of the twins Castor and Pollux, lurks around every corner. While at UVA for undergraduate studies – this was captured in two different majors – biology and economics.
After moving on from an advanced industrial process company where I ultimately served as CEO for two years, interviews prompted another duality;
“Are you a startup guy or a big company guy?”
Questions like this are reasons to always be interviewing. I didn’t have a clear answer. With some reflection:
- I’m a 60/40 startup guy vs BigCo guy.
- What matters most to me is being effective and getting things done. The best way to predict this is knowledge and appreciation of the needs of a vertical / end industry.
- I’m a data driven industrial guy.
- Different settings ask for different skills. Sometimes the way of the startup is right, sometimes the resources of the big company are right.
- Some customer problems in the world of data driven industry are best solved by startups, but the constraints occur in the asset base of a large customer. The major reason startups have failed in heavy industry is the constraints in the customer base.
- There are lots of people who are drawn to entrepreneurship because they are sold on the fast paced environment and ability to have a big impact. Industrial customers tend to chew up those living for this part of the Entrepreneur’s Journey.
Being a “startup person” or a “big company person” is as much about your personal commitment to what you are doing. Sometimes a startup mentality is essential, and sometimes new technologies can only win in a startup. In industrial technologies, the constraint is the asset base and it sits in a big company. To win in industry, you’ve got to have an entrepreneurial mindset balanced with political patience.