Second edition of the Business week in Vancouver kicked off by an excellent speech of Warren Roy, CEO of Global Relay. The Business week is organised for the students from Grenoble Ecole de Management who are participating in Entrepreneurship program run cojointly with Beedie Business School of SFU. Here are some of the most interesting ideas Mr. Roy outlined.
How did you manage to start your business?
Having strong project management experience, Warren Roy was attracted by the new technology sector since it started to create large amount of opportunities. He decided to read books to make his own mind about the topic. Mr. Roy came up with a business idea and stared to develop it with a small team including one of his friend, and one developer. He first focused on developing solutions for architecture and construction industries since he was working in this field.
After 4 years of failures bringing the company close to bankruptcy, they saw an opportunity in new banking regulation concerning data and messages. With the support of a lawyer, they completed their team. Their technology fit very well for this market and since that moment the success story began. Mr Roy stressed that the most important was to:
- Never give up even though you have tough times. You will better learn to be on the losing side than on the winning one. Indeed, entrepreneurs rarely succeed during the first time. Mr Roy’s message was: “Don’t be afraid of failing!
- You have to understand yourself and be curious about the world around you in order to capture opportunities
What are the key points to start a business?
There are three things to be aware when you first start your business.
- The most important is to build a great team. You have know your teammates, know each others’ weaknesses and strengths. This will enable you to know how much risk and pressure you and your teammates can manage. Until which point you and the people you work with will be able to lead the project? Mr Roy said most of the employees are his friends or friends of friends. And so it is better to work with cofounder lead by passion than by money because those workers pattionate in money will most likely loose their loyalty once a company is doing bad. Moreover a strong team aggregates trust, and with trust you will find investors. The stronger is your team, the stronger is your project.
- You have to be clear about the vision, the mission and the strategy you want for your company. It has to be crystal clear so everyone knows what are your expectations. You need to fix your goals with your teammates so you know where you are going. Concerning the company structure of Global Relay, it is top down driven by the CEO. You will find your vision by listening to your customers. The mission statement will be defined by what you are doing and how you will measure it. Then, the strategy of the company is both top down and bottom up because everyone’s vision and skills are important. To make a good decision, it’s important to listen to everyone’s idea, the CEO should not be seen as a hero.
- You need to anticipate one step ahead if you want to grow because growth is expensive. When your activity is growing, it is getting more and more complicated. You have to do things right at each stage, definitely not growing and leaving little problems unsolved. Because when you do it you will always have to look backward to fix it but at much higher cost. Taking the example of Global Relay’s accounting system, it was at the beginning all manually done and they decided to fix it too late so it took them three years to be efficient. If they fixed it earlier, it might have taken only one year. That is why it is better to take time and build a solid and healthy growth. Make time investments early, don’t wait until it becomes big problem.
At the end, Warren Roy said that you have to be yourself because people who invest in you want to know who you are as a person. In terms of raising funds, he insisted to make distinction between “friendly money” coming from a person that trusts you and your project, who will help you (friends, family, venture capitalist that fit with your values and vision) and the others that can relinquish your control.
Written by Laetitia GOUY, Marin SAUZADE