Here’s a recap of our conversation with Andy Ory, founder & CEO of Acme Packet, courtesy of a Ilya Vakhutinsky of team CareDojo:
On Tuesday we had the great pleasure of hearing Andy Ory of Acme Packet talk to us about growing great companies. He not only serves as president and chief executive officer, but founded the company as well. Under his leadership, Acme Packet pursues its mission to enable service providers and enterprises worldwide to unleash the power of interactive voice, video, and unified communications over IP networks. He has directed Acme Packet’s growth from a young startup to the dominant leader in the industry and tried passing along some of the knowledge he picked up along the way over the sound of crunching tacos in the background. Mr. Ory is an incredibly charismatic speaker and was a pleasure to listen to. He touched upon a variety of things from disruptive innovation to the importance of relationships in business. He even grabbed a marker and brought the lessons to the whiteboard.
One of the key lessons he shared was the importance of mentorship. He said he was really grateful that his dad was so knowledgeable about business and could push him along. Today the mentality is that the best environment for an entrepreneurial minded person to thrive in is at the early stage part of a company’s growth, but Andy says that you don’t know until you’ve done it all. He said he loves where he is now, which is running a public company, and that every single stage has its pros and cons. He said he didn’t consider himself an operator, but is now in an operational role and that it was due to key mentorship that he was able to really be successful doing it.
Even outside of a personal mentor, relationships are fundamental in the world of business. Andy used a humorous metaphor with staplers and scotch tape to demonstrate how businesses with established relationships give each other priority, but over time disruptors can really take hold of the market. However, if incumbents can be agile and change their businesses it’s hard to edge them out. In this case he mentioned a few high profile companies, IBM and Apple, who have been able to move away from their original businesses and stay alive.
Early on, more often than not business leaders get too distracted by the details of the kinds of products or services they are selling to notice how central it is to build relationships not just with your customers, but also with your vendors, employees and even competitors. Without strong relationships, it is pretty much impossible to have real success as a business owner. Just like IBM and Apple, you need to have long-term customers and good vendor relationships that will outlast difficulties and challenging times. The takeaway is clear, relationships are critical.