After 2 years with Recognition Group I was able to save a bit of money and I decided to move back to New Hampshire to help my father and my sister with the family business, Windsor Mountain International. Windsor Mountain International was founded in 1961, as Interlocken International.
48 years ago my parents started Windsor Mountain as summer camp in southern New Hampshire. It has since grown to offer a broad array of travel opportunities for young people to explore other cultures, build outdoor skills, language skills, and to offer community service. In the 80's Windsor Mountain began the first youth exchange with China and has since created friendship exchanges in the former Soviet Union, Israel, and Cuba. Watching my parents run a busniess was a big factor in driving me to become an entrepreneur and when I speak to undergrad and MBA students about entrepreneurship, parents as role models is a common theme.
I spent 3 years in New Hampshire when the tech startup bug hit again and Kaleil recruited me to work on another startup venture, JumpTV which is an internet TV broadcaster. I joine JumpTV as the COO in 2005 as the 7th employee and in the course of two years, we grew the company from a startup with 20 TV channels to a public company with more than 200 international TV stations, a Content Delivery Network, and advertising and subscription based business model, and a team of over 100 employees (yes we grew more carefully at JumpTV than we did at govWorks). Of course JumpTV, like any company, had its challenges. While I learned many lessons at govWorks and avoided some of the pitfalls that caught us the first time around, there are always new mistakes to make and new lessons to learn. Eventually JumpTV consolidated all senior management to Toronto, Canada and I was not ready or willing to leave New York City, so I took a job with another NY based startup, ooVoo.
I've been blessed to work for a string of companies that made products that people really wanted (access to online governement, summer camp, access to your hometown TV station when you're living abroad). My latest adveture, ooVoo is likewise, a great product with a big market. Unfortunately, a great product with lots of demand, doesn't necessarily equal a profitable business model. Again and again, I see great ideas getting mired down in the challenges of execution. It happened at govWorks where politics, hubris, poor product planning, and lack of focus destroyed the company. Unfortunately at JumpTV, there were again elements of politics, hubris, wasted money and poor execution which prevented a great success. The team at ooVoo has been inconsistent about strategy fluctuating back and forth between a powered by ooVoo strategy which focuses on tools, and API, and large 3rd party partners who want to embed video conferencing into their products and the alternative strategy of either consumer product or business tool. We'll see what happens in the months to come and hopefully I can help them successfully execute a focused strategy.
So, back to the original list of questions, how about the govWorks break in? The guy who did it was caught, but by the time they knew it was him he was already in a federal facility on some other charge. As far as what I would do differently, I suggest you read my powerpoint presentation "Lessons Learned" for an overview of some of the mistakes we made at govWorks as well as a few successes. The slides make good discussion topics for classes even though not all of them are addressed in the movie. If any of you have case studies or papers you've written that you'd like to share with others please send them to me and I might share them on this web site.
As a result of the movie, I get a large volume of email. I try to respond to all of it and although I sometimes fall a bit behind, I still welcome your communications. My email address is
. Generally questions are about the movie, the business, or my availability to speak at schools and conferences. You might be surprised by the number of people who write to ask if govWorks really existed or if Kaleil and I were characters made up as part of a screenplay. I enjoy meeting students and often I'll travel to your school or event for just the cost of travel. I have remained involved with the community of entrepreneurs both through speaking engagements and through my turnaround and insolvency work with Recognition Group. My talks generally focus on the challenges of entrepreneurship, managing crisis when an entrepreneurial endeavor unravels, maximizing the return to investors in an insolvency, and the case study of lessons learned from govWorks. I would like to hear from you if you are interested in having me speak at your conference, school or trade association. Recently I have spoken at Harvard, RIT, Tennesee Tech, UNH, and Case Western.