I think my love of entrepreneurship comes from being both creative and motivated. When you can see a solution to a problem, but can’t make it happen, there’s a good chance you’re the frustrated employee of a big bureaucracy. Don’t get me wrong, there are some big companies that let their employees solve problems, but small companies seem so much better at it. Let me tell you how I arrived where I am professionally.
I started my career in one of the largest groups within one of the largest companies in the entire world (IBM). While I learned a lot and enjoyed my time, I quickly found myself wanting to do bigger and better things and lacking the seniority to do them. I left to join a startup which literally had (at that time) 1 employee for every 20,000 at IBM. I was brought in to help a bunch of bankers figure out how to function like an effective services organization (after all, I’d been a Service Engagement Leader at the largest consulting company in the US). It didn’t take our young startup long to realize that the model we were consulting about could be codified in to a set of products. This realization lead us to hire developers, take in VC funding and put the petal to the floor.
It was about that time that my role at the company shifted more and more to product management. I still visited clients on a regular basis to both help with implementing our tools and with sales support; but I found a passion for not only solving the client’s problem, but solving the market’s problem. I loved conceiving a product or feature, figuring out what kind of market it would have, working with the designers to make it usable, working with the development team to make it reality, working with the marketing team to raise awareness, working with the sales team to put it in the right customers’ hands, and working with those customers on training or services to make sure they’re using it right.
While I enjoyed my time as a product manager a combination of acquisition discussions (the company is now part of EMC) and a desire to move back to Pittsburgh, begged for a change. I decided to work for an even smaller company and founded Cavell & Cavell with my brother. I found clients in the banking and mortgage industries. In one project I helped one of the largest investment banks in the country ensure that their datacenters were aligned to their business needs. In another, I helped Fannie Mae create an “Application Development Factory”.
While I’ve joined Fannie Mae as a full-time employee to help bring that Application Development Factory to life, I am still passionate about the Entrepreneurial Spirit. I have started several small companies (unfortunately none that are still active today), advised countless others and have even been known to invest in them from time to time. The latter two I usually do through Cavell & Cavell. If you’d like more information on my current projects, please feel free to reach out.