In this week’s episode of Beyond Consulting, Eric Pritchett, a former Kearney Engagement Leader and current President & COO of Terzo Technologies joins us to discuss, “How can strategy consultants succeed in enterprise technology?”
The Beyond Consulting Podcast is hosted by Ken Kanara.
Ken Kanara: Hello, and welcome to Beyond Consulting, brought to you by ECA Partners, the only podcast dedicated to helping our listeners navigate the wide variety of options they have after a career in consulting. Our show helps listeners answer the question, “What can I do after so many hours spent in PowerPoint and Excel?”
I’m Ken Kanara, host of Beyond Consulting and CEO of ECA Partners, a project staffing and executive search firm focused on former consultants. Each week, I host guests that have spent time in consulting and successfully transitioned to other exciting career paths, as well as executives that hire former consultants.
If you’re interested in tuning in for future episodes, please make sure to subscribe and check out eca-partners.com to get in touch with us. Today, our guest is Eric Pritchett. Eric is the President and Chief Operating Officer of Terzo Technologies. Eric and his team are revolutionizing vendor-relationship management and driving better decision-making and outcomes for their clients. Prior to Terzo, Eric was a corporate strategy leader at Asurion, where he focused on corporate investing in M&A. Before that, Eric successfully co-founded not one, but two companies: a technology-driven broker dealer, Potamus, and PhaseCapital, a quantitative systematic hedge fund. Before becoming a successful technology entrepreneur, Eric actually got his start in management consulting at Kearney and then Cartesian. Wow, Eric. Welcome to the studio. You’ve had quite an interesting career.
Eric Pritchett: Yes, thanks so much for that great intro. I think the thing you take away from that is that I must be older to be able to have done all those things (laughs).
Ken Kanara: That wasn’t my takeaway (laughs), but pretty cool path. I want to talk about a bunch of stuff today, including how you got to where you are. First, we’d love to dive into what you’re doing now. You work for Terzo, is that right?
Eric Pritchett: That’s correct. I’m the President and the Chief Operating Officer and, like any classic start-up, I look after CFO duties and some other things as well. We’re just heading into our Series A now. We’ve just gone over 60 employees and we’ve got some nice momentum with some great Fortune 500 logos that are in the product now, and committed to the company as customers. It’s a super exciting SaaS leadership position at a company with some really great, dynamic, passionate co-founders and we’re very excited about the talent we’ve brought into the team, including some former consultants that are taking the leap into our start-up. It’s a fun project right now, and it’s exciting, the momentum we have right now.
Ken Kanara: That’s really cool. Help me understand this a little bit better. Terzo is essentially, if I think about a customer relationship management software, this is basically for vendors, right?
Eric Pritchett: The easiest way to describe this is that there’s $5-6 trillion that’s going to get spent between businesses in B2B commerce, right? We all know that when there’s a transaction, there’s a seller and there’s a buyer. For years, and really, Salesforce is credited for this…for years, there’s been great investment and an understanding that you can improve the selling side, and the top line side of this handshake, by deploying CRM technology. Of course, Salesforce is the big one out there that everybody knows. There are a few others. What there really hasn’t been is, “What is the platform on the other side of that handshake?” Because all of that commerce has a buying side as well. The way we think about ourselves is that we’re really a CRM for all of these trillions of dollars of B2B purchasing, sourcing, and third-party vendor spending. We’re the platform that helps leaders and the line optimize that process and, ultimately, those dollars and outcomes.
Ken Kanara: That’s really interesting. It’s also almost a little bit surprising to me that it’s taken this long, given where technology is, for someone to get out there and really tackle this big problem. Why do you suppose that is?
Eric Pritchett: I’m going to tell you something funny. In Terzo, I’m one of the only very early, OG people who will admit that I didn’t invent this whole thing, right?
Ken Kanara: Okay.
Eric Pritchett: The original insight really came from our Founder and CEO, Brandon Card. He spent his career selling as a very successful salesman, and then sales leader, at Oracle, then IBM and most recently at Microsoft. When he was at Microsoft, he had this West Coast cloud sales leadership position. Of course, we all know in the past five years, cloud has been a pretty good thing to be selling, especially if you’re at, , Amazon or Azure. What Brandon kept colliding with was these very sophisticated companies—the biggest companies in the world. You’re interacting with their CIOs and you’re coming in there to either renew a big contract, or you’re trying to migrate someone from a certain product that you want to sunset, or you want to migrate some of their shrink wrap software into the cloud version, or whatever. What B would always hear from the CIOs is, “Man, you guys always know more about what I’m purchasing from you, more about when my key contracts are going to expire, more about what I need to buy next than my own organization knows.” He heard the same thing at Oracle, IBM and Microsoft. He was speaking with a Fortune 500 CIO out on the West Coast that looked at him and challenged him to go build a CRM for the buyer. “That’s what we need. We need a CRM for the buyer, Brandon.” So the legend starts there and he had the guts to go take the shot. He pulled together some of the others of us that got involved, and two of the other great co-founders he has, Al Giocondi and Pradeep Thangavel, and really took this idea and went and scratched around in the market. When he became convinced, “Hey, this really isn’t out there,” he really went all in on it. With that passion, he was able to attract other capable folks and off we go.
Ken Kanara: That’s pretty cool. Then, the other thing I’m curious about is…you guys are essentially selling to Chief Procurement Officers, I would imagine? Leaders in private equity? Talk to me a little bit about how the heck you’re selling to CPOs. You’re going after the hardest people to sell to.
Eric Pritchett: One of the key things that any startup’s going to go through is it’s going to probably take you your first 20 customer wins before you really, truly completely hone in on exactly who the customer is and exactly where those hot buttons are that are accelerating sales cycles, getting people emotional and getting people to make a decision about a new enterprise technology, because this is an enterprise, ? This is not a little point solution that a couple of people put on their desktop and run on a credit card for a couple bucks a month. This is a decision to go in a strategic direction and to bring an important piece of technology that’s going to ultimately impact multiple teams and multiple groups. We certainly have a great reception, although a difficult audience, as you said, with chief procurement officers. We see vendor governance and increasing demands occurring around board demands for more vendor governance. We see legislative demands now for companies to be more knowledgeable about what’s going on in their tier one supply chain. That’s another sort of force. You see new ESG and vendor governance type groups that are great targets for us. Then, some companies have formally created vendor management offices. I would estimate that if you look at the Fortune 500, you maybe 30%-40% of the Fortune 500 will have a vendor management office now. That’s a great target. Ultimately, the CSO and the CIO tend to be very influential in this space. CIOs are the ultimate champion, but then that whole ecosystem below and around them are also good targets for us.
Ken Kanara: That’s interesting. You’re the President and COO. You’re in charge of, I would imagine, go-to-market overall? What’s been your biggest surprise since you’ve joined Terzo?
Eric Pritchett: This will tie into our whole thing here about what management consulting arms you with, when you get out into the professional world. One of the things that is important with an early-stage company—I think this is important with all stages of companies, but especially so with an early-stage company, is you’ve got to get your organizational design right. “What is your operating model? Who’s in which seat, which teams, how are teams functioning? What are their roles and responsibilities?,” and then, “How are they interacting with each other?” Getting this machinery of, “How do we operate?” and who really is accountable for what, is much more important than probably, what gets talked about in terms of success of early-stage companies. Everyone knows that post-A it’s all about being a growth company. It’s, “Can you take the idea, and really get to scalability?” The scalability is this magic word everybody talks about and scalability really speaks to, “Have you built the machine in such a way that it can operate logically, efficiently and repeatably?”
For us, I’m heavily involved in go-to-market, but it’s really a partnership. We don’t have a Chief Revenue Officer, yet. Typically, in SaaS, you’d have a CRO that would own go-to-market. Right now, for us, that’s our CEO, Brandon, who serves that function. He and I partner closely with a few others on the team and I’m involved in strategy. Brandon’s very much involved in deploying the actual sales effort. Under me is marketing, which is clearly strategic and go-to-market-oriented. Then, I also look after the post-sales aspects of delivery and customer success.
Ken Kanara: Okay, got it. You just brought up something that’s interesting that we hear a lot about, but isn’t often talked about in, call it the “start-up world,” or “start-up ecosystem,” and that’s customer success. Let’s say you have a new client. You deploy the solution. What kinds of things are you doing to ensure that you’re generating successful outcomes for your clients?
Eric Pritchett: What I think is the most important and what we’ve learned a lot about in the past 18 months is your enterprise sales process. Where do you begin pulling delivery leaders and customer success leaders? Is it the last 10% of the sales process before close, or is it the last 25%? What we found is you don’t want to close. You don’t want to leave salespeople alone just to have to develop and document where were the customers key pain points, key use cases, key success criteria. You want to have a smooth transition through the closing of the account so that the customer has already interacted with your approach to delivery. Then, the post-delivery, ongoing account maintenance and customer success and, ultimately, having everybody on the same page when a deal is closed and when a PO gets issued before we invoice it. This is a fancy way of saying, you’ve got to really have a very good foundation, a good starting point on expectations. If you have that, and you’ve got talented people in your delivery and all 100% of our delivery people are former management consultants from SIs and top shops that understand how to do cloud migrations and deal with data and help and work with Fortune 500 Operations and IT professionals, etc.—that skill set to go in and say, “Okay, now we’re in. Now you’ve bought something. Now we’re here to make you comfortable that we’re going to get this thing deployed and you’re going to start rapidly moving towards experiencing some of the benefits, even though the platform may be a five-year journey to squeeze everything you possibly can out of it and the transformative power of it, with a great big business. “Can we start making you feel like you’re having some success in that first 90 to 120 days,” is very important.
Ken Kanara: How much do you feel is technology and then how much do you feel is service capabilities on the backend? Because I would imagine that a lot of the things that you’re uncovering are because you’re on the same side of the table after the sale has been made and you’re working with the client.
Eric Pritchett: That’s a great question. Anyone that works for me in delivery or customer success, and when I interact with our sales guys, I’m always pounding everyone with the fact that no one wants to buy technology. No one cares about technology. They are buying a solution. They are trying to buy an outcome. They don’t care how fancy our cloud implementation is of sharded databases that can do back flips or whatever. No one cares about that. Now, you’re going to go through a security questionnaire and you’re going to go through a lot of vetting that the technology is where it needs to be, but that’s not getting you the sale. That may lose you the sale, but that’s not getting you the sale.
So, , I think the people skills that I see in our sales team and the people skills that are required in our delivery and customer success team are quite high. It’s not to say that you don’t need to understand the technology, have real technology, a high-quality product and good engineering and all those other things. No one’s buying technology. They’re trying to buy data centralization, data cleaning. They want to transform how people are working and able to interact with their workflows and their important vendor data. They’re wanting to aggregate. They’re wanting to save time. They’re wanting to have smart alerting. They’re looking for business outcomes. Not technology.
Ken Kanara: Now you’ve led me down where I wanted to go, which is connecting the dots between how you got from, call it a business background to a technology C-suite leader and entrepreneur. We can talk a bit more about Terzo, but a lot of whatever our listeners are going to be interested in is your story in terms of starting from the beginning. You started in consulting and now you’re the president of a tech company. How did you get here?
Eric Pritchett: Partially, accidentally. Honestly. When I was finishing at Boston University, I had started the early part of my undergraduate studies in Mathematics with an interest in Computer Science. I got about halfway through—this was in the early and mid-90s, and I came to this realization that I’m either going to be the most extroverted mathematician in the history of the world and probably not the best mathematician, although, I was good, but you get to a certain level and you see the other people in those departments and you say, “Okay, do I want to be one of the weaker, more extroverted mathematicians or do I want to transfer to the Finance department and be one of the stronger ones? I transferred to the business school with just enough time to finish the degree as an undergrad. When I came out, I actually thought I was going to go to a PhD program. That was my plan. I thought I would go do a PhD program in something very, very quantitative in the field of Economics—sort of a very math-y economics type of thing. I figured that would be the geometric mean right between. I had become very interested in technology and computers and I had taken a little bit of CS in my undergrad experience. I thought, “This will be great.” Then I started looking into grad school and realizing, “Man, this is could be a five-or six-year journey.” I’m a kid, I’m broke. I had to go to school on a scholarship to be able to afford it in the first place. So I thought I better do something. I better get a job, but because I thought I was going to do a PhD, I had booted the undergraduate recruiting process so I was a little bit not in the best place. I was fortunate enough to have a friend who encouraged me to do an interview at the consulting firm. When I got inside there, the interviewing process was all puzzles and math tests and business case—tricky, hard questions and it felt like there was pressure—and there was. I thought, “Wow, this is really cool. I can’t believe people get paid to do this stuff.” I was very fortunate that they wanted me to come aboard. I did join and started out in the telecom media tech space. For me, management consulting was like going to work every day and getting to learn every day. If you’re still in your management consulting journey—the people that were around me: my immediate managers, seniors, principals and even partners and global practice leaders…eventually, as you move up the chain, you meet these people. There were also many, many, many people that I came across inside the companies and the many engagements on different continents and all over the US. But this is your golden opportunity to build your network. Look around at the consulting firm that you’re at, and there are very few people that are still consulting when they’re retiring, when they’re 65 or whatever. There are some. There are some legends out there and there’s some people that are just unbelievable—that really make a career of it. The consulting firms have done more to find ways to keep some of those folks around by creating business intelligence units and other training units and things to keep some of that talent around. But the reality is, I don’t know the number for sure, but I think it’s like 90 to 95% of everyone that starts a career in management consulting is going to go and do something else. They’re not going to retire a management consultant.
Ken Kanara: I think that’s right. You said something…I don’t know if you look back and think the same thing, but it was such a good opportunity to take advantage of networks that you didn’t even know were there. I spent nine years in it and I still, to this day, regret that I didn’t optimize that specific point and I think about it often, even now.
Eric Pritchett: Yes. The reason I make this point is that when you’re in it, you’re so busy and of course, we’ve had COVID, so things have been a little bit different. But back in my day, you were on the road every week for the most part, unless you were on vacation. You’re well supported in that regard, but it is for a young person. It’s a huge adjustment. It almost becomes a lifestyle, to be able to deliver on these demanding projects and also have any semblance whatsoever of a social life. A couple of things that you have to remember—network like crazy. Make sure that you stay connected when you meet people at a client’s site. Give it 3-4 months after the engagement. Out of all the people that you meet, usually one or two will stand out. You don’t have to try to keep in touch with a hundred people from every engagement that you ever do. But if one or two stand out to you, give it a couple of months after the engagement’s over, shoot him an email, tell him that you really enjoyed something—learn how to be generous and flatter people. Tell people if you learn something from them. Say, “ what, when I did that project, , XYZ with you earlier this year, I really learned some valuable things that I was reflecting on this morning…,” or “that I was reflecting on in this other assignment I’m doing,” or “that motivated me to go read a book,” or “motivated me to think about going back to graduate school,” or whatever it is. If you’re genuine with people and you reach out with people, when there’s clearly nothing you’re asking for, you’re just reaching out to them and saying, “Hey, I learned something from you,” or “I really enjoyed working with you,” or “I thought there was something there about your company culture that I thought was really cool and I’ve tried to take a little piece of that back to where I work here…” And fill in the blank, Cambridge, Chicago, Houston, whatever. You’d be amazed at the response you can get from people and people will remember you for 20 years—unless you were a complete dope. I’m assuming everyone’s performance is pretty good…if you’re a good performer. Be generous about the fact that, “Hey, I’m learning from you too. I was the one delivering that assignment, but I learned a lot of great things.” Figure out how to create these connections and they will last for you for 20 years because the place where I’ve seen management consultants have the most difficulty is—and I’ve seen this a million times, that they realize that they want to do, or they needed to do, something besides consulting at a point where they’re approaching or they’re already at burnout. That’s the wrong time to suddenly say, “Oh boy, what’s the game plan now? Maybe I should go try to figure out that I should have been networking for the last five, 10 years.”
Ken Kanara: Yes. Quite honestly, that’s when they usually call us. And it’s like, “Oh crap, , what do I do now?” Your point on being genuine about telling people what you learned from them…it’s funny because it’s one of these things to me that, maybe I’m just lucky that it comes naturally to me because of my personality type or something, but I call it the “give a shit rule.” If you just, “give a shit,” and you let people know, it’ll come back to you tenfold. It’s not like that same person is going to hire you tomorrow or whatever, but you never know what’s going to happen three, five, 10, 20 years down the road. Also, my big takeaway from your transition from college to university to consulting is that, and for those of you that don’t know, Eric looks like somebody that you would not want to get into a bar fight with, but I’m learning that Eric is secretly a geek. That’s my big takeaway from that (laughs). So you do a couple of years in consulting. You did six, I think…six years in consulting, right?
Eric Pritchett: Yes, it was in that neighborhood, yeah.
Ken Kanara: Okay. Then you went out on your own, if I’m not mistaken, right? Then you transitioned to become an entrepreneur.
Eric Pritchett: There was a transition, but my exit from consulting was actually…The partner that had really been a great champion of mine was looking around to go do other things in his own career. The writing was on the wall and there were a number of us that had been quite tight in that practice and guys started looking around. I was one of them and an opportunity came along to go take a technology leadership role at a Wall Street firm. It was going to require a move to Manhattan. Right around this same time, I was getting married to my wonderful wife, who I’m still with. Now, we have a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old. I went back to her and said, “Hey, I think this would be cool.” The financial industry was something, if you remember way back to the beginning of my story, possibly doing the financial economics or the quant economics thing. I was like, “Hey, I’ve been in telecom and tech, but this finance…finance and Wall Street looks interesting.” Of course, this was before ‘08, when that became the worst idea ever. I took an opportunity to go to work in Manhattan with a boutique shop. My wife and I moved to Manhattan. Two phenomenal years there…phenomenal people, a lot of great people. Then I had an opportunity to go back up to Boston to start the first of two financial services firms that were basically FinTech…engineering-driven, financial, a hedge fund and a broker dealer.
Ken Kanara: That’s pretty cool. It also goes to your point about networking, right? Even partners will leave at a certain point. It’s staying plugged in, not just with clients, but with people at the consulting firm. They go on to do really interesting things, which is part of the reason we have this show.
Eric Pritchett: I’ll tell you a mistake I made, and I’ll tell everyone this…that’s looking at what to do next in your career. Right about the time that I was getting ready to start the first business with some great people, I got a call from a partner that I had worked with for many, many years, a guy I really trusted. He was really a mentor of mine when I was a consultant. We had a two-year gap because I’d been in New York, and he’d been doing consulting or whatever he was doing there. He calls me up and he goes, “Hey, I’ve got this unbelievable opportunity to go to this company, Asurion, as their Chief Marketing Officer. I’m calling up some of the old guys and I think this is going to be an unbelievable opportunity.” I was like, “Oh.” So we caught up and I said, “Thanks so much for giving me a call but I’m starting my own thing. The ink’s drying on this thing I’ve just set up.” What’s funny is that he went to Asurion when the market cap was probably 350 million. The last time I checked, I can’t say what it is now because it’s a private company and it’s confidential, but it’s many, many, many orders of magnitude above that. So it’s funny…I did end up at Asurion later on in my career, leading corporate investing and M&A and there are lots of wonderful people there. When I transitioned to that role, it was, again, ultimately through connections I had made 15 years earlier in my career. You build that credibility in your 20s and early 30s and people understand what you’re all about and your work ethic and that you’re sharp and how you go about things. 15 years later, that reputation and those networks are still there. I’ll continue to stress the networking thing, but be aware that when you go out and you try to make your best decisions like, “Oh, I’m over here. I’m going to go do this entrepreneurial thing” and this other opportunity was put right in my face, and I said no to it. Needless to say, I’m happy with my own career and try to live life without regrets, but you have to be careful about the decisions you make, because sometimes the winning card is on the table and you have to identify it.
Ken Kanara: Well, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than smart, right? The other silver lining was we probably wouldn’t be on this podcast together if you had gone to Asurion way back then. You did some interesting things with folks that you had networked with and gotten to know in consulting. How do you make the leap from there to where you are now?
Eric Pritchett: When I talk to consultants, I frame this with people as, you’ve been in the business of giving expensive advice and you’re trying to get in the business of having to have more ownership and more long-term operational roles, and this is something that people torture themselves about. When I think about the consulting skillset, I think about people who have been trained and they’ve been put in the presence of complexity and ambiguity, right? You don’t call a consultant in just to open or close the front door, right? Everybody knows how to open and close the front door. So when the consultants are called in, you’re typically brought into a complex situation where many questions, many gray areas tend to abound. What consultants are really good at—the good ones—is that they come into this complexity and they transform the complexity by using frameworks. They’re trained to use frameworks. Let’s use people, process and technology framework, or let’s use an SS and a 2B, or let’s use some type of investment framework or let’s use a strategic forces framework. I think, Porter’s and all those are out there. They’re very good at saying, “Let’s apply a framework.” Then through the framework, things start to become more tangible. Then through that process, you bring in these people skills, together with this challenging combination of people skills and analytical skills. Through the deployment of those, you come up with new insights that you have to communicate very effectively. If you look at that path that a consultant has to take on every engagement, it’s an incredibly strong skillset. You have to do a Jedi mind trick to say that these same types of skills are going to apply themselves to operating. The only difference is that after the frameworks are applied and when answers are known, then I have to live through and accept ownership and accountability for the outcomes based on what we’re trying to do. Consulting has a high respect factor, usually, on smarts and hard work, and there’s usually a relatively low accountability factor. Who advised Time Warner to buy AOL? Wouldn’t we love to know that? Or you can come up with all these disasters…it’s famous, the people that were consulting, Enron. I think their whole accountancy firm literally doesn’t exist anymore. It was so bad. But you have to understand that going into an operating role is up the accountability side. You’re going to have to really exit from strategy formulation to really living more in that implementation mode for longer periods of time.
Ken Kanara: That’s something that is surprisingly a revelation to candidates all the time. Folks will come directly out of consulting top firms, and then be surprised that their consulting experience isn’t like putting them into a CEO role right away. It seems a little bit funny to us because…? I, at this point in my life, probably value execution way more than pontificating about really good ideas. I’d say that’s definitely one area where I’d say consulting maybe falls short. It’s a little bit academic. Where else do you feel that there were gaps or hurdles that you had to overcome to get in the position where you are now?
Eric Pritchett: You do have people leadership in consulting. By the time you’re a manager, or even if you get up to engagement leader or principal, you’re at a point where you’re leading teams. You’re leading teams and oftentimes, multiple projects in different parts of the world simultaneously. You certainly get opportunities to lead people, but you’re leading people that are all very, very, very highly selected. It’s one challenge to lead. You can think about it as, it’s one thing to lead a platoon of Navy Seals or even a platoon of Marines, right? These are highly, highly motivated, highly self-selected candidates that end up in these places. It’s another thing to be a great leader in the army. I would argue that’s where the bigger challenge lies from a leadership point of view. Oftentimes, management consultants have a jarring transition where they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I just went from leading every person on every team I’ve ever been staffed on (all Ivy or U Chicago people or whatever, and all these insane overly type A, triple undergraduate major type people)…” Then when you get into corporate settings, especially the large corporate settings, it’s a whole different world. The HR makeup is different. So it’s, “Wow, I’ve been leading Special Forces platoons, and now I’m over here and I’m supposed to figure out how to lead an army division.” For smart people that want to learn, they will adapt and learn quickly. The same way as when they’re deployed on a new assignment. You have to adapt and learn new things about the new assignment quickly, but you can’t assume that it’s going to be exactly the same.
Ken Kanara: Yes. Not only that, it’s the team. We joke at consulting that we’re all insecure overachievers, right? So you’ve got a team of insecure overachievers, but also it’s a smaller team. Especially if you think about some of the top-tier strategy firms. It’ll be 2-3 people teams, and that doesn’t really always translate well to, “Hey, I’m going to run a 200-person operations team.” There’s a lot of nuanced learning that needs to happen on the way to get there. We have a bit of time left, and I wanted to ask you, as we ask all of our guests…We’re building a library of resources. If there’s one book that you could recommend that has been helpful on your journey, whether it’s life or career, what would it be?
Eric Pritchett: For life, I’m going to say, I would recommend more economy. So it’s from a Japanese author and, he’s written a ton of books in Japanese, a ton of them have been translated in the US. The first one that got translated in the US was called A Wild Sheep Chase. It came out in the late, I forget if it was the late ‘90s or the early 2000s. But, if you want a whimsical, enjoyable story about someone in Japanese society, that’s living a modern, but somewhat mediocre life, and falls into interesting experiences, that’s a really good one. That’s contemporary. If you’re looking for a somewhat more recent one, for a bit more business, more motivational and leadership-oriented, I would say Ben Bergeron and his book is Chasing Excellence: A Story About Building the World’s Fittest Athletes. Bergeron is the most…he’s in Natick, Massachusetts, where we used to live. My wife used to be a member of his CrossFit gym and he is the most successful CrossFit games coach in history. He’s had male, female, team and masters champions. I think he might be the only guy alive that’s accomplished all that. So it’s a pretty cool read about how to find your inner focus and mental strength, whatever the task may be, business or otherwise.
Ken Kanara: Oh, that’s cool. Are you a Cross Fitter?
Eric Pritchett: I’m not a Cross Fitter. My wife is pretty serious about fitness. I have a point of view where, I do walks with the dog and try to be reasonable about my diet and whatnot, but I take a pretty casual attitude about, maybe a little bit more of an Eastern attitude about, playing the long game here, trying to manage my diet and trying to get outdoors a lot and go hiking and walking. That sort of exercise is how I get by.
Ken Kanara: Great. Eric, like I said, thanks so much for joining us today. I just want to step back now to Terzo. Obviously, a really interesting enterprise solution that you guys have out there. Where are you in your journey and where are you guys looking to go?
Eric Pritchett: In our journey now, the company was incorporated in, this date’s funny, March 16th of 2020. We are literally a pandemic company. We started the company with the two US-based co-founders that were in LA and I was still in Norco and our other co-founder, Pradeep Thangavel, was in Chennai, India, where we still have an engineering camp as of today. A lot happened in 2020. It took real strength of mind to keep this project going because we didn’t have a customer yet, didn’t really know the product market fit yet, didn’t have a seed round done yet. We were truly at the beginning stages of trying to figure out what this all could be. Some really good people joined in 2020. We landed our first customer in December of 2020, which was a goal for that year, to at least get one before that year ended. We did start raising angel capital there, in the Fall of 2020 and started getting some real great, established, angel investors in the Silicon Valley area, primarily, that took an interest in what we were trying to do that had been successful with their own SaaS or data-oriented businesses. That gave us a nice push. Then, things started really coming together for us when the new year came on. I think everybody was excited about vaccines and about, “Hey, business leaders are going to start, things are going to open back up and investors and business leaders are going to get refocused now…the world has to go on.” There was a new energy in ‘21, I think. Not so much on our side, we were energetic the whole time, but it felt like the Fortune 500 was coming back to life and that’s who we’re trying to sell to. The investors were coming back to life and that’s who we were trying to attract as investors. In March we closed our first big enterprise customer, a big international bank. Then in April, we followed that on with one of the largest retailers in the world. That back-to-back… those two wins really galvanized investors that we had been talking to all throughout the fall. On the back of those two wins, we very quickly got the seed round then to come together with a very nice institutional round. You can check it out on our website, Great Oaks Ventures and NJF Capital and Innovation Global and abnormal ventures all came in and that’s when things really got going. Now, you’ve got enough of attraction with some big customers, and you’ve got a little bit of capital work with, so that’s when I relocated from Norco out to Atlanta because we knew we wanted to get somewhere where we could build the operating HQ that would be in a market that was open for business, for lack of a better description, and where there’s…you’ve got a 6 million plus metro here with a very diverse talent set…diverse in every way. It’s a cosmopolitan place and it’s a very educated place. We knew we could land here and put together finance, accounting, marketing and all these different teams…customer success, data science, etc. If you want it, you can build it in places like this. We started to get ourselves organized here.
Since then, we’ve had a few more customer wins. We had our first public sector win late last year, in the fourth quarter. We got a state, a US state on board, which was a huge win because it’s public sector. Then, we got our largest, whenever it was, in December, we almost got it to land on my birthday. We missed by three days, but it felt like a birthday present and it’s one of the largest financial institutions in the world. Then everything just becomes a blur. Starting the new year, our first quarter this year…the first quarter of 2022, is probably going to surpass…we’ll probably surpass our total sales to date, in a quarter. As you mentioned when you kicked off the call, we’re starting to see how our product fits into themes like private equity. How does a private equity firm look at using our tool across a portfolio to understand optimization of their spend and their vendor ecosystem? We’re starting to see use cases in corporate holding company structures. We’re still seeing use cases in the later stage, high growth start-ups, sort of pre-IPO type of space, where companies are preparing for an IPO, and wanting to level-up a lot of their compliance and a lot of their processes to get ready for some of these SEC requirements around disclosure and all the stuff that happens when you accept that role. We literally just added, between February 15th and March 1, we just onboarded, roughly 20 new employees. We operate in India, the US and Canada, right now. We went over 60 employees now, globally and we’re going to be setting up shop…we’re setting up Terzo Europe in Switzerland in the next couple of months. We’re also in the process of having substantive discussions about doing an A-round this Spring, even amidst the public market turmoil that’s happening. If you’re building a real business that people are excited about investors are open for business and any way you like your 18-hour day tumbled together. That’s how we’re doing it right now, but it feels good because we’re making great progress and we’re very excited about what’s going on. We’ve got a lot of great people coming on board.
Ken Kanara: I guess that’s one thing that probably won’t change from consulting to a role like you have with Terzo, is that the 18-hour days aren’t going away any time soon. Good stuff, Eric. I really appreciate you joining us today. If anybody wants to learn more about Terzo, where should they go?
Eric Pritchett: Our website is www.terzocloud.com and we’re on LinkedIn. If you search Terzo on LinkedIn, we’ve got, a nice, little, blue, faded, sort of triangular logo. That’s who we are. If you want to check us out on LinkedIn. On our website and on LinkedIn, you can find various content and media that we’ve got out there and some blogs that we do. I will say one last thing for folks…for management consultants and the 18-hour workday comment. Whatever you’re going to do in your career, there’s not just one way to go about it and there’s different levels of passion, but I’ve always felt that I don’t want to be doing something if I’m not passionate about it. When I am passionate about it, I tend to be working at it a lot because I get very focused on it. At the same time, it’s not really 18 hours, every day, all of the time. It comes in fits and starts. I do think it’s important for young people to realize that your goals can be outside of just work. My wife is amazing, and I’m blessed with an amazing 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, who I have great relationships with and I have spent time with them over the years, as well. So, if you want to look at a philosophy of how companies are going at it today, and this includes Terzo, I think there is a more conscientious approach. Terzo…Brandon Card, and I have both taken the conscientious pledge. If you go check out conscientious.com, it’s a movement started by Ryan Breslow, who is the founder of Bolt, and Bolt has really taken off and he’s sort of trying to popularize, “Let’s come out and think about a new social contract between the employer and the employees, where we can really sustain passion and avoid burnout and be conscientious about how we’re going about our workplace.” It’s not just the hundredth diversity and inclusion statement you’re going to read this year. It does, of course, include some of those topics, but if you check out conscientious culture and conscientious.com and the conscientiousness pledge, you will see that Terzo has made that pledge. We’re about working hard, but we also care a lot about folks enjoying their lives.
Ken Kanara: I think that’s a good concluding point. I don’t know about you, but what I’ve observed, in consulting, I felt like we were doing 18-hour days just to do 18-hour days. Whereas now, for a lot of good reason, change has happened. What you’ve just pointed out…it’s a lot more fluid. It’s a lot more integrated with life. it’s less about the amount of hours that you’re doing, but more about the fulfillment and the output that you’re generating.
Eric Pritchett: That’s right. And you’ve got to realize, times like right now…if you’re going to onboard 20 new employees and grow your company by 30% and have a quarter that exceeds all the sales up to that point, and you’re trying to deal with investors all at the same time, you’re going to have to accept that there are going to be some 18-hour days to make that work. But you learn that it’s not year-round, right? You have to learn how to…there was a great HBS article, Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time. If you operate that way where you accept that, sometimes, you’re going to have to lean in really hard and other times you’re going to be able to work smart and lean back and recover, what really matters is, are you getting the results you want and are you managing the output and delivering the way that you wanted?
Ken Kanara: I like that paradigm in terms of managing your energy, because that’s how you would approach a workout, right? Now you’re speaking my language. Eric, such a pleasure to have you on today. If folks want to get in touch, check out Terzo for the importance of the solutions component. It is one of the most beautiful interfaces I’ve ever seen, in terms of an enterprise software. Whatever you guys are doing there, keep it up and I look forward to hearing more about your success in the future.
Eric Pritchett: Thank you, and Ken, let me thank you for inviting me on. It’s always so much fun when we interact. I feel fortunate that we’ve been friends and love what you’re doing here, trying to reach out and have management consultants get some content on where this ride might go. It was a lot of fun.
Ken Kanara: Awesome. Thanks so much, Eric.
Eric Pritchett: Thanks for having me.
Ken Kanara: For our listeners, as a reminder, you can check out our podcast on Apple and Spotify and just make sure to subscribe for future episodes. And if you’re interested in learning more about ECA, that’s eca-partners.com or beyondconsulting.info. Thanks so much.