Tell us a bit about your background, your career history, and your business. What prompted you to get involved with MESA?
Over 20 years with Bankers Systems, which turned into Wolters Kluwer (huge company). Left to stay in software, but decided to buy an existing company with a platform that could grow. Now 10 years in the making. Didn’t know much about small business (all experience had been with a large company). Realized I needed mentorship from people who have been there, done that. Also, wanted more networking opportunities with peers – other entrepreneurs in start-up software companies.
What was your biggest business challenge before working with MESA? Has MESA able to help you work through it, and if not, what happened instead?
Surviving the recession – bought the company in 2006. Connected to MESA in 2011 – right after the recession. It was now time to execute on the business plan. We were a small company in the software industry – there weren’t that many in Minnesota at the time, so not many resources. The two Mentors assigned had a number of meetings. They helped me define two key directives: 1) find sources of capital, and 2) refine the business plan. They helped achieve both.
What, specifically, is your favorite part about working with MESA, and why?
Just the one-on-one meetings with the Mentors. Getting in front of an audience, practice presentations, have people listen to my pitches as volunteers – not a bunch of VCs trying to pick apart your business. Volunteers sincerely trying to help the business – they could be more objective. Resource Partners: was able to engage with New Counsel – they helped with legal resources – that was a benefit, too. Also enjoyed the receptions: networking, sharing stories.
If you were going to recommend MESA to a colleague, what would you say?
You’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain. MESA doesn’t let everyone in (exclusivity). Need to be very receptive to listening. Ears wide open – listen to what the Mentors have to say. Be truly open to being Mentored.
What three words would you use to describe your experience with MESA?
Experienced, effective advice.