The January meeting of TEXCHANGE covered the topic of "So You Want To Be A CEO?". Over 100 local entrepreneurs, technology executives and others knowledge providers filled the room to hear the experts share their best advice of the good, the bad and the ugly of aspiring to fill occupy the top position in a technology start-up.
The program included:
Kevin Fahey - President and CEO, Metrosol
David Hood - CEO, Troux Technologies
Bill Wood - Silverton Partners
Jeff Browning - Partner, Austin Ventures
Together they imparted first hand knowledge of what entrepreneurs need to consider before stepping into this demanding role, and some tips on what venture capitalist look for when identifying a first time CEO. Below is some of the wisdom they shared.
Your experience and personal style will shine through and lead you into the C-suite. While you will need a good education and an impressive resume, you also have to be able to manage people, as the CEO becomes responsible for the lively hood of all who work for the organization. The buck stops at the CEO's door.
For a technology start-up, VC's like to back those who began their career with a first class company like Cisco or Microsoft, as classic management training is always useful. However, also having a significant role in a smaller company and experience working inside a start-up will give the CEO useful prospective on what he will encounter on a day to day basis.
Being a CEO is about being a good leader of your team. You will be responsible for creating and driving the culture in the company. There are few good examples in corporate America of big company CEO's who do this successfully. In a large company there are always other people and rationale that can spread around the responsibilities. Not so in a start-up. Making everyone work together seamlessly while sharing company values and passion is job one. Also being able to work well with the board of directors and tap the wealth of experience from the board will be a conduit to success.
Before undertaking the job, a wanna-be CEO needs to know why he wants the job. Ego is the wrong reason and will lead to frustration, as this is long-hours and hard work (and not a lot of time for ego). You also need to realistically understand your experience and see the big picture of your strengths and weaknesses. Having a strong network and advisers who will be honest with you about your skills will help you with your assessment.
The discussion was then passed to the table discussion leaders, who lead intimate round-table discussions. Each table had different perspectives and levels of experience, which lead spirited opinions on what it takes to become a successful CEO.
TEXCHANGE continues to be a premier organization for the Austin, Dallas and Houston technology communities. The monthly dinners are always informative and full of passion. Tonight's presentation was another example of why TEXCHANGE is so successful.
Have A Great Day.