Scurri’s Rory O’Connor offers some nuggets of wisdom to budding entrepreneurs.
Rory O’Connor is the CEO and founder of Scurri, a cloud-based delivery provider for e-commerce merchants.
A former Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week, Scurri hit the milestone of €10bn in goods processed last September. It followed that with some more good news in November, announcing that it had raised €2.2m in its latest funding round.
We spoke to O’Connor to gain some insight into what key ingredients make a successful entrepreneur.
‘Good sportsmen don’t sporadically attend training, they make it a ritual and commit themselves to following the same pattern, day in day out. It’s the same for successful entrepreneurs’
– RORY O’CONNOR
Describe your role and what you do.
I am passionate about what Scurri provides retailers, and I am fanatical about making the personal delivery experience enjoyable for online shoppers.
Scurri powers online delivery options that meet individual customers needs, decreasing cart abandonment, increasing customer satisfaction and significantly improving customer lifetime value.
My main responsibilities are ensuring that we achieve our growth targets, building and motivating our award-winning team, ensuring that the Scurri vision is being clearly articulated to all stakeholders, and raising venture capital to support our ambitions.
In your opinion, which areas of technology hold the greatest scope for opportunities?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is at the forefront of new innovations to meet growing consumer expectations in the online retail space, and the opportunities are endless. I think there will be a heightened focus on personalisation and automation going forward as the e-commerce market becomes even more competitive.
While e-commerce giant Amazon is talking about opening up to access machine learning (ML) and AI, so are Salesforce, Google and many of the major players. This access to ML for start-ups will drive innovation.
Are good entrepreneurs born or can they be made?
Good entrepreneurs are made. It’s rare anyone just has that lightbulb moment where they can create a successful business, no questions asked. It takes determination, lots of mistakes and endless research. You have to be a self-teacher and learn (the hard way) what not to do to be successful. It is important that you really spend time immersing yourself in the industry, building a community of contacts and market influences. Good entrepreneurs have to surround themselves with the industry and know their market inside out.
What are the qualities of a good founder?
A good founder needs to have patience and agility. Just because they’re a founder doesn’t mean they will find all the right answers. It takes work. Our world is an ever-changing one and it is difficult to know what way the tides will turn, so agility is key. You must be open to new technologies and innovations.
Decisiveness is also necessary for a good founder. For the sake of progress and focus, decisions need to be made (however tough they might be), balancing that with being attentive to your various stakeholders’ needs.
You need to be a leader. Guiding your team through obstacles creates a strong relationship with your employees that will in turn result in achieving success and reaching those difficult targets.
What does a successful entrepreneur need to do every day?
Successful entrepreneurs follow rituals; be it a run before work, meditating or reading the news prior to getting stuck into the day. Having daily rituals to live by is key. It links back to staying on track and remaining focused at all times.
Good sportsmen don’t sporadically attend training, they make it a ritual and commit themselves to following the same pattern, day in day out. It’s the same for successful entrepreneurs; you need to identify your motivators – your ‘wake-ups’ – and strive to practise them on a consistent basis.
What resources and tools are an absolute must for your arsenal?
- Phone: An obvious one that I wouldn’t be without.
- Notebook: I like a visual of writing down ideas or thoughts throughout the day. Old-school, but important.
- Slack: An ideal tool for communication. We use it internally, with channels for each department. Slack is also used externally to walk our customers through onboarding or to provide real-time support.
- Salesforce: Having all of our customer data on one single platform is beneficial. It allows us to keep track of records, leads and invoicing. Everyone has access and it is available on the phone.
- Excel: Can’t run a business without Excel. This amazing tool has been around for so long. I often find myself going back to do a spreadsheet for data analysis. Excel is a still a must for me.
How do you assemble a good team?
Creating a culture is really important for me to assemble a good team. If you have a clear set of values in place and consistently abide by a culture that is ethical and motivating, team members will follow suit and your business will strive.
Building a community is also really important. Involving yourself with alumni, associations and colleagues, and participating in events and really having a role in the industry, is the ideal way to assemble a team externally. Having these connections can allow you to bring back experiences to your internal team, feeding into an environment of constant learning.
I believe in experimentation, innovation and agility. Having a small team focusing on a big job to do can be challenging. Monthly ‘open lunches’ and ‘all-hands’ sessions, where everyone can come together to ask questions or learn something new from each department, keeps team members engaged and motivated.
What is the critical ingredient to start-up success?
Never give up! Cliché, but true. Having the drive to keep going is essential. It is imperative that from here, you keep going, day in day out, particularly during the challenging days. You have to have an overwhelming determination to execute your ideas. That drive and ambition is really key to making your start-up a success.
What are the biggest mistakes that founders make?
Spending too much time on the non-important stuff. The aim is to always stay focused. If something doesn’t move the needle towards the overall goal, then don’t spend time sweating about it. Often, founders forget this and get side-tracked with other projects or other things. Don’t stray from the focus. Be ruthless!
Who is your business hero and why?
Elon Musk. After his success at PayPal, he didn’t just retire. His job wasn’t complete as an entrepreneur; instead, he moved on to the next best thing. I find this really admirable. Elon is now exploring exciting ideas and trying to solve big problems. The founder of Tesla and SpaceX is serious about his plans to send a red sports car into space with David Bowie playing consecutively on the car radio. To Elon Musk, there are no limitations to opportunities. His radical ‘Why not?’ rhetoric is something we should all think about as entrepreneurs.
What’s the number-one piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs?
Determination. Always have drive and keep your sights on the target. Stay focused at all times and overcome obstacles without getting side-tracked.
Being determined will be the driving factor that gets you over the line, and helps to energise your team.
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