For startup veteran and Pax8 CEO John Street, the allure of the venture lies not in the promise of profit but in the almost paternal thrill of creation, of unexpected progression.
Evident from his impressive track record, Street seems to know how to grow a successful business. Part of how Street has learned to get it right comes from his vantage point of watching other companies fail. Street made his start as a CPA who helped failing companies with their finances. “I can’t stand dysfunction in companies. I would constantly marvel at how they let things get so screwed up. To me it’s just as easy to run it right as it is to run it wrong. 80% of them can’t get out of their own way.”
There are several pillars to success that are often underestimated, according to Street.
Whether it be 50 to 500 employees, Street doesn't discount the importance of the company's overall vibe. Street spends a majority of his work week maintaining the positive culture. In Street’s companies, that means embedding a distinct sense of purpose, discipline and integrity into the DNA of the company. Personnel may be one of Street’s biggest time investments in a startup - an investment that pays dividends in the ultimate functionality of the company. “The one thing I know I’ve done with every startup is we’ve built a very healthy culture. It’s pretty simply done. Treat people with respect and try and keep an element of fun to what we’re doing, and celebrate ourselves.”
Timing is another crucial element to startup success- if the technology is too ahead of the game it won't catch on.
Street and Klaus Dimmler, CTO, first contemplated the cloud in 1993. “We weren’t using the word ‘cloud’, but Klaus and I were talking about network-layered services in 1993. The whole concept of USANet was built for the ‘cloud’ use of email known as webmail. In the fall of 2011, all of sudden ‘cloud’ is getting thrown around everywhere.” Now, as Street sees it, is the perfect time to revisit the cloud. “It’s surprisingly under-penetrated at this point. But it’s really coming fast. We’re really at a good time now. It’s quickly becoming a got-to-have.”
Provide never-ending value
With Pax8, Street has taken care to add real value across the supply chain, keeping them relevant in the supply chain long term. Pax8 bundles professional services and expertise into a cloud commerce marketplace. Therefore, their services and platform aren’t one-time experiences but remain relevant throughout a business's lifecycle.
Know the market size
The possiblities to tap into this market are neverending at the moment. Street is the new guy, aiming Pax8 for 10% of that revenue stream over the next six years. “I’m virtually certain that by 2020 the distribution piece of the supply chain in North America is an 8 billion dollar revenue stream. Certainly the big guys are going to get the lion's share of that but there’s going be one new guy in there… built on the cloud… Starting from the cloud.”
The funding and the exit go hand-in-hand
Part of what has led to Street’s string of successes is the philosophy that you build companies for long-term stability and steady profits - not for explosive growth with a buyout in mind. This is what solidifies funding. “To get money from a VC at the execution stage is not easy to do.” says Street, even for a CEO with his history.
Right now, Street and his Pax8 associates are in the process of gaining the critical mass to generate the inertia needed to get such a multi-faceted operation off the ground. “It’s a constant juggling act. It’s like cooking a Thanksgiving meal, you gotta get everything coming out hot at the same time,” says Street. Street's immediate goal is to get the company past the execution phase and bring a thoroughly vetted company before VCs this fall.