On Tuesday, we had the privilege of hearing from Nat Parker, CEO of moovel North America. Nat first conceived what would become GlobeSherpa while enrolled in a graduate program at Portland State University in 2007. His vision was a mobile app that could provide a transportation ticketing hub for municipal transit. His entrepreneurial path was less clear. He learned early on that funding doesn’t just show up. A friend connected Nat with Doug Fieldhouse, president and CEO of Vesta Corp. Nat shared how he and Fieldhouse met for coffee so he could explain his business plan. Fieldhouse was impressed enough to cut a $50,000 check that Nat was not expecting and returned within a week.
“I gave back the check and learned a big lesson from Doug. He said ‘never turn down money.”
Amidst hunting for investors and growing his fledgling business, Nat was fighting off competition and litigation and navigating an acquisition by a much larger corporation. Nat shared several of the bumps and bruises that took his Portland-based GlobeSherpa to Daimler-owned moovel North America.
The theme of Nat’s presentation—and what most applies to other leaders working to grow their organizations—was the need to put personal feelings and egos aside in order to make the best decisions as a CEO. To do what’s best for the company and for the customer, sometimes, you have to take yourself out of the equation.
Here are a few memorable examples that Nat shared on Tuesday evening.
Being Humble and Open
In 2007, Nat’s initial idea was to share images of geographic locations as well as recommendations and reviews.
“Today, that’s called Google or Yelp. GlobeSherpa, and now moovel, is a much different company than I set out to create. But, sometimes, you have to kill your darlings.”
Making Hard, Smart Decisions
Just as GlobeSherpa was getting going and working to expand into Washington D.C., its biggest competitor sued for patent infringement.
“We all knew the suit was worthless, and my board wanted to fight it. I wanted to fight it, but that fight was costing us new business. It was a hard pill to swallow, and I had to fight my own board, but we chose to settle so that the company could move forward.”
There is no ‘I’ in Team
Ten months after Daimler acquired GlobeSherpa, they were merged with Austin-based Ridescout and Nat was named CEO.
“I knew both sides would need to bleed a little for the team and culture to survive. So I made my leadership team in Portland report to the Ridescout team in Austin. I felt I’d done the right thing when my leadership team and their leadership team universally hated me.”
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