MESA sat down with Josh Smith, CEO of Toovio,
to ask him about his experience working with MESA.
Tell us a bit about your background, your career history, and your business. What prompted you to get involved with MESA?

I have a business education and mindset but started as a developer in my day job primarily working with marketing databases. From this, I became interested in building technology products using customer marketing data for better decision making which led to founding Toovio. I was conscious of the areas new to me in running a software company such as marketing and the various administrative needs and looked to advisors for help. I was immediately drawn to MESA given its pro bono approach and its potential benefits.

What was your biggest business challenge before working with MESA? Has MESA been able to help you work through it, and if not, what happened instead?

Understanding a CEO has tough decisions to make with long lasting ramifications. I knew I needed a sounding board. The MESA mentors have been especially helpful in sharing their experiences in running SaaS-based companies and thinking through issues with our business model. Most of all, there was great input in thinking through the consequences with many of our bigger issues and decisions.

What, specifically, is your favorite part about working with MESA, and why?

The MESA mentors create a safe environment for discussion with elements of friendship and sense of camaraderie. The discussions were genuine which is rare. I’d walk away from the mentoring sessions and be blown away with the many ah-ha moments. Sometimes, the mentors might have to repeat their points before I “got it,” but this is why the genuine and safe environment was so important and effective.

If you were going to recommend MESA to a colleague, what would you say?

To get the most from the relationship, the mentee needs to be humble and listen well. Look at the MESA relationship as a journey where the mentee has the opportunity to grow.

What three words would you use to describe your experience with MESA?

Genuine, transformational, eye-opening.

Anything else you want us to know about your experience with MESA?

The MESA relationship was priceless and there is no substitute for the MESA approach and input. There is no better way to promote the growth of the tech community in MN than what MESA offers. Mentoring makes a difference and there needs to be more of this going on. As another outcome, mentees should eventually become mentors.