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"Rather than apply, I showed up to see the CEO "
Ian's Story, Part 3/4
(3/4) “Rather than apply for a job, I just showed up at Terapeak’s* office and said I had an appointment with the CEO. I don’t think I actually did. Then, I demonstrated a system I had built which could be helpful to the business. That was my mindset: show what I can do.
I felt self-conscious about not having a degree, but I wasn’t sure how much value university provided beyond the credential. I compensated by working harder. At the time, I didn’t know how unusual my approach actually was.
My experience at Terapeak became an unofficial MBA for me. Having just raised a $4 million Series A to grow its e-commerce data analytics offering, the company was experiencing frenetic change. I saw several rounds of growth and layoffs as the company experimented with business models until the investors brought new management and a focus on the bottom line.
I was hired to do Enterprise Sales and mentored by a rough-and-tumble Texan. He taught me to price for value-added to the customer rather than for cost-plus-profit. Also, instead of starting small and upselling over time, his view was, ‘Let’s charge as much as possible upfront and if they don’t sign, the deal’s off. What’s more, we’ll blacklist them.’ We closed a $3.1 million deal in 45 days, on the last day of the fiscal year, on a Sunday. There were huge celebrations. We went whitewater rafting and duck hunting in Houston. We drank moonshine out of mason jars. I almost shot my boss. It was tremendous.
It was also educational; I wasn’t familiar with that level of tenacity and conflict. In some cases, it showed what’s possible, but in others, it showed what not to do. It was akin to my health challenges in high school: they caused problems, but they also taught me to push through fatigue and get work done. I learned that experiences are not inherently good or bad, just valuable.
Throughout this, Terapeak faced a risk: it was at the mercy of the parties providing it with e-commerce data. On my own time, I wondered whether I could mitigate that risk and gain unique insight by combining different types of data: not just e-commerce, but also location, weather, and more. That’s the premise on which I founded Exapik in 2015.”
What matters more? Getting the credential, or showing you can do the work? Tell us in the comments.