Start-up Advice: Peter Coppinger, Teamwork.com


10 May 201673 Shares

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Peter Coppinger is the co-founder, CEO and lead developer of Teamwork.com.

Founded by Peter Coppinger and CTO Daniel Mackey in 2007, Teamwork.com is a project management tool that aims to make collaboration as easy as possible for teams.

The Cork-based company’s software is now used by more than 370,000 companies and 2.4m active users worldwide.

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

Virtual reality is going to be huge. It will reshape and influence everything we do.

The internet of things, in my opinion, is just getting started and has huge potential.

Are good entrepreneurs born or can they be made?

I think a good entrepreneur can be made. You need to have the determination to succeed but, otherwise, there is a world of information at your disposal. There are endless amounts of success stories, fail stories, dos and don’ts that you can learn from. Whether you choose to learn from them or not is a different story.

What are the qualities of a good founder?

In my opinion, a good founder needs to:

  • Have a vision, and communicate that to the team
  • Lead by example and have a good work ethic
  • Obsess about the customer and their problems
  • Listen to ideas from their staff
  • Treat people, staff and customers with respect
  • Listen to thier gut
  • Be focused, determined and persevere, no matter what.

‘I think a good entrepreneur can be made’
– PETER COPPINGER, TEAMWORK.COM

What does a successful entrepreneur need to do every day?

Determine what’s the single most important thing that you need to be working on, and work on that, exclude or delegate everything else. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of work there is to do every single day. It’s important that you have a strong team around you to share the workload.

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

  • Feedly.com: For keeping up-to-date with the hundreds of websites I subscribe to
  • Audible: for making every car journey and flight a productive one
  • Podcasts, especially startupsfortherestofus.com
  • Business of Software videos: Some of the best people in the industry sharing their knowledge:
  • Teamwork.com: To stay on track of everything from tasks to customer emails.

How do you assemble a good team?

I think it’s important to look for hard work and commitment in every team member. It sounds like an obvious one but you need people who are willing to go above and beyond. At Teamwork.com we follow the “great game of business” philosophy and that is to treat every employee like an owner. They work hard for us and we reward them in return. Cultural fit is important too. For example, we have a very open culture where you’re welcome to share your ideas even if it’s not in your area. We also have a very flat structure too, so if you’re coming from a company that is heavily structured it may not suit you.

‘We focused too much on trying to perfect the product instead of worrying about marketing’
– PETER COPPINGER, TEAMWORK.COM

What is the critical ingredient to start-up success?

There is no one ingredient but you need to pick a large market, think big, work hard and be doggedly determined.

What are the biggest mistakes that founders make?

I can only speak for myself here, but I think it’s focusing too much on the product early on in business. For us, this is all we did, we focused too much on trying to perfect the product instead of worrying about marketing. If we had focused on marketing earlier we would have reached important milestones sooner. Hindsight is great isn’t it?!

Another big mistake I see people make all the time is making a product for a tiny market – your chances of failure are much higher if you target a small niche.

Who is your business hero and why?

The original inspiration for me was Bill Gates. His success speaks for itself.

Recent years have seen me devour everything written by Joel Spolsky. He’s one of the cofounders of Stack Overflow and writes an awful lot about the business and management of software and I think he has a lot of great things to say on the topic.

Joel also co-founded the Business of Software Conference. I have watched a lot of the previous talks from that conference and they have been very influential in helping me think about the development of Teamwork.com.

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

Dream big!

Peter Coppinger, CEO and Founder of Teamwork.com will speak about his journey from coder to CEO at the Business of Software Conference taking place in the Powerscourt Hotel on 16 – 17 May. Tickets are still available.