Start-up Advice: Clyde Hutchinson, Journey Partners

9 Aug 2016

Clyde Hutchinson is a founder, mentor and adviser to early-stage companies.

Clyde Hutchinson is a partner with Journey Partners, which helps organisations to scale.

He is also a co-founder of the ‘Sport and Tech’ event, which aims to bring those working at the crossroads between those two disciplines together.

Hutchinson is also the lead mentor on the DCU Ryan Academy Female High Fliers programme.

The Female High Fliers accelerator is currently seeking applications from women-led businesses for the second cycle of its programme, which begins in September. Applications close this Thursday (11 August).

In your opinion, which areas of technology hold the greatest scope for opportunities?

As I work to help organisations to scale, I see our most successful clients as being those who focus on technologies and also have the patient, athlete or customer at their centre. Too often, healthcare companies neglect the patient or sports technology companies forget the athlete. Consumer-centric technologies beat them every time.

Are good entrepreneurs born or can they be made?

I believe entrepreneurial skills can certainly be learned. There are, for example, some fantastic programmes, such as the DCU Ryan Academy Female High Fliers programme, where I personally have witnessed entrepreneurs develop both themselves and their businesses through their learnings. However, I believe it’s a certain type of person who has the mindset to become a successful serial entrepreneur. The mix of determination and resilience has to come from the individual themselves.

What are the qualities of a good founder?

Being positive in outlook and communications, resilience, and an ability to handle an extensive to-do list!

What does a successful entrepreneur need to do every day?

Breathe! Pressure and stress are inevitable for entrepreneurs, so it’s important to take time every day to do something that is completely unrelated to your business.

What resources and tools are an absolute must for your arsenal?

Coffee, blogs, podcasts and mentors. I am strong believer in the power of having a set of mentors who you grab a coffee with to ask for advice. I have different mentors that I go to for their insight into different situations. I am also a knowledge junkie so consume a colossal number of blogs, newsletters and podcasts.

How do you assemble a good team?

I have been involved in assembling teams both for organisations I have led, as well helping form teams for investors and early-stage companies. From this experience, the crucial element is culture and how to bake in diversity in the culture of the companies. It’s important to take time to understand what type of organsiation you want to be, then set your culture early in your lifecycle and constantly asses and revise this. Companies that have a clear vision and understanding of their belief systems can scale faster as they know the type of talent that is right for their organisation. I am a huge champion of diversity, especially its importance as a consideration for early-stage companies as they begin to scale. Diverse teams, comprised of individuals not only of different gender, race or sexuality, but also in terms of diversity of thought and background, are by far the most effective. Combining this with a strong organisational vision and culture is a recipe for success.

‘I am strong believer in the power of having a set of mentors who you grab a coffee with to ask for advice’

What is the critical ingredient to start-up success?

Building a product or service that someone is desperate to buy. It is crucial to have customer involvement at all stages of the product development lifecycle to ensure what you are building is exactly what is needed in the marketplace.

What are the biggest mistakes that founders make?

Not listening to good advice and having an inability to be coached. Board members and investors regularly ask me to mediate with a founder who is so fixed on their idea or approach that the fail to see the value of advice. Whilst it is important to be determined and resilient, it’s also essential that you seek out contrarian opinions and take the advice on board.

‘Companies that have a clear vision and understanding of their belief systems can scale faster as they know the type of talent that is right for their organisation’

Who is your business hero and why?

I am always attached to those who have overcome struggles or adversity to become successful and still have desire to give back. People such as Stephanie “Steve” Shirley, who overcame being a part of the Kindertransport during the Holocaust to set up Freelance Programmers, one of the first software coding companies. She exclusively employed women, an underutilised labour pool that had previously found it difficult to find flexible working conditions. She has also been involved with a number of philanthropic causes. Closer to home, I was lucky to spend a week with Pat Phelan, Trustev (now TransUnion) in Tel Aviv and have been a huge fan since. Also, Ciara Clancy from Beats Medical, as she has been a champion in a very difficult arena and still has remained positive and determine

What’s the No 1 piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs?

Success is only a connection away, so get out and meet people. Whether it be consumer or someone who has the capacity to mentor or advise you, your network will assist you in ways you could never have imagined.