From Consulting to Enterprise Tech

Beyond Consulting with Eric Pritchett

 

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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 will 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, and before that, Eric successfully, co-founded not one, but two companies. A technology-driven broker dealer, Potamus, and PhaseCapital, a quantitative systematic hedge fund. But before becoming a successful technology entrepreneur, Eric actually got his start in management consulting at Kearney, as well as Cartesian.

Wow, Eric, welcome to the studio. You’ve had quite an interesting career.

Eric Pritchett: Yeah, thanks so much for that great intro. I think the thing you take away from that is that I must be older, for sure, to be having done all those things.

Ken Kanara: Well, that wasn’t my takeaway, but pretty cool path.

You know, I want to talk about a bunch of stuff today, including, you know, how you got to where you are, but first, you know, we’d just love to kind of dive into what you’re doing now. So you work for Terzo. Is that right?

Eric Pritchett: That’s correct. So 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. So it’s a super exciting SaaS leadership position at a company with some just really great, dynamic passionate co-founders and we’re very excited about the kind of talent we’ve brought into the team, including some former consultants that are taking the leap into our start-up. And it’s a fun project right now, and it’s exciting, the momentum we have right now.

Ken Kanara: So that’s really cool. Okay. So help me understand this a little bit better. So Terzo is essentially kind of like, if I think about like a customer relationship management software, this is basically for vendors, right?

Eric Pritchett: So it’s the easiest way to describe this is, there’s $5-6 trillion that’s going to get spent between businesses in B2B commerce, right? And so we all know that when there’s a transaction, there’s a seller and there’s a buyer. And 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, the top line side of this handshake, by deploying CRM technology.

And of course, Salesforce is the big one out there that everybody knows. There are a few others. And 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.

And so, the way we think about ourselves is we’re really a CRM for all of these trillions of dollars of B2B purchasing, sourcing, third-party vendor spending, and we’re the platform that helps leaders and the line optimize that process and ultimately those dollars and outcomes.

Ken Kanara: So that’s really interesting. And also almost a little bit surprising to me that it’s kind of taken this long, just given where technology is, for someone to kind of get out there and really kind of tackle this big problem. Why do you suppose that is?

Eric Pritchett: So I’m going to tell you something funny. In Terzo, I’m like one of the only very early, like OG people who will like admit that I didn’t invent this whole thing, right?

Ken Kanara: Okay.

Eric Pritchett: So like the original insight really came from our Founder and CEO, Brandon Card. And he grew up, you know, he spent his career selling, as a very successful salesman and then sales leader at Oracle and 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 have been a pretty good thing to be selling, especially if you’re at, you know, Amazon or Azure. And what Brandon kept colliding with was these very sophisticated, very, you know, the biggest companies in the world, you know, 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 know, you want to sunset, or you want to migrate some of their shrink wrap software into the cloud version or whatever.

And what B would always hear from the CIOs is, “Man, how are you guys always, you guys, always know more? About what I’m purchasing from you, you know more about when my key contracts are going to expire, you know more about what I need to buy next than my own organization knows.”

And he heard the same thing at Oracle and at IBM and at Microsoft. And he was speaking with a Fortune 500 CIO out on the West Coast that looked at him and challenged him to go build, you know, a CRM for the buyer, “That’s what we need. We need a CRM for the buyer, Brandon.”

And so the legend starts there and he had the guts to go take the shot and pull 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. And when he became convinced like, “Hey, this really isn’t out there.” He really went all in on it. And with that passion was able to attract other capable folks and off we go.

Ken Kanara: That’s pretty cool.

Okay. So then the other thing I’m curious about is, so you guys are essentially selling to Chief Procurement Officers, I would imagine. I would imagine kind of like leaders in private equity. Talk to me a little bit about how the heck you’re selling to CPOs. I mean, 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, right? Is it’s gonna 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, you know, accelerating sales cycles and getting people emotional and getting people to make a decision about a new enterprise technology, because this is an enterprise, you know? This is not a little point solution that a couple of people put on their, you know, 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 and that’s going to ultimately impact multiple teams and multiple groups. So we certainly have a great reception, although a difficult audience, as you said, with chief procurement officers.

We see vendor governance and we see 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. And so that’s another sort of force. So 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 have, at 30%, 40% of the Fortune 500 will have a vendor management office now. So that’s a great target. And ultimately the CSO and kind of the CIO tend to be very influential in this space.

So, you know, CIOs are kind of the ultimate champion. But then that whole ecosystem kind of below and around them are also good targets for us.

Ken Kanara: That’s interesting. You’re the President and COO. So you’re kind of in charge of, I would imagine, kind of go-to-market overall. What’s been your biggest surprise since you’ve joined Terzo?

Eric Pritchett: This will tie into, you know, our whole thing here about sort of 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. You know, 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? And getting this machinery of how do we operate, and who really is accountable for what, is much more important than probably, you know, than what gets talked about in terms of success of early-stage companies.

Everyone knows that post-A it’s all about, you know, to be a growth company, it’s can you take the idea, but can you 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, you know, logically and efficiently and repeatably?”

And so 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. So typically, in SaaS, you’d have sort of a CRO that would own go-to-market. Right now, for us, that’s our CEO, Brandon, that sort of serves that function. And so he and I partner closely with a few others on the team and, you know, I’m involved in strategy, Brandon’s very much involved in deploying the actual sales effort. And then under me is marketing, which is clearly strategic and go-to-market-oriented. And then I also look after the post-sales aspects of delivery and customer success.

Ken Kanara: Okay. Got it. So you just brought up something that’s interesting that we hear a lot about, but isn’t often talked about in like, kind of like, call it the start-up world or start-up ecosystem and that’s kinda like customer success.

So, okay. Let’s just say you have a new client. You deploy the software, or sorry, you deploy the solution. What kinds of things are you doing to kind of 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, it’s where do you begin pulling delivery leaders and customer success leaders into that last, is it the last 10% of the sales process before close, is that the last 25%?

But 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, you know, 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. And then the post-delivery, ongoing, you know, 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.

You know, 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, you know, talented people in your delivery and you know, all 100% of our delivery people are former, you know, 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 and et cetera.

So, you know, 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. But, you know, 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, like, is technology and then how much do you feel, like, is service capabilities kind of like on the backend? Because I would imagine that a lot of the things that you’re uncovering is because you’re on the same side of the table after kind of the sale has been made and you’re working with the client.

Eric Pritchett: That’s a great question. So anyone that works for me in delivery or customer success, and when I interact with our sales guys, like I’m always pounding everyone, no one wants to buy technology. No one cares about technology. They are buying a solution. They are trying to buy an outcome, right? They wanted, you know, they don’t care how fancy our cloud implementation is of, you know, sharded databases that can do back flips or whatever.

Like 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, you know, 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, you know, 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. And it’s not to say that you don’t need to understand the technology and have real technology and a high-quality product and good engineering and all those other things.

But no one’s buying technology, right. They’re trying to buy data centralization, data cleaning. They want to transform how people are working and being 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.

So they’re looking for business outcomes. Not technology.

Ken Kanara: Okay. So, okay. Now you’ve kind of led me down where I wanted to go, which is kind of connecting the dots between how you got from, call it a business background to, you know, a technology C-suite leader and entrepreneur.

Well, we can talk a little bit more about Terzo, but a lot of whatever our listeners are going to be interested in is kind of like your story in terms of like, okay, start me from the beginning, you started in consulting and now you’re the president of a tech company. How did you get here?

Eric Pritchett: So, you know, partially, accidentally.  Honestly, so you know, when I was finishing at Boston University, I had started the early part of my undergraduate studies in Mathematics and with an interest in Computer Science. And I got about halfway through, and this was in the early and mid-90s.

I got about halfway through and I came to this realization, like, I’m either going to be the most extroverted mathematician in the history of the world and probably not the best mathematician, although, you know, I was good, but you know, you get to a certain level and you see the other people in those departments and you say, okay, do I want to be, you know, one of the weaker, more extroverted mathematicians or do I want to transfer the Finance department and be one of the stronger quants, right.

You know, I transferred to the Business school, just with enough time to finish the degree as an undergrad. And, when I came out, I was, actually, thought I was going to go to a PhD program. That was my plan. I thought, you know, I’m going to go do a PhD program in something very, very quantitative in the field of Economics, like sort of a very math-y economics type of thing.

I figured that would be the geometric mean right between. And I had become very interested in technology and computers and I had taken some CS, you know, a little bit of CS in my undergrad experience. And so I thought, you know, this will be great. And then, I just started looking into grad school and and realizing, “Man, this is like, that could be a five- or six-year journey.”

And I’m a kid, I’m broke, you know, I had to go to school on a scholarship to be able to afford it in the first place. And so I thought, you know, I better do something. I better get a job. Because I thought I was going to do a PhD, I had kind of 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. And when I got inside there, you know, it was just, the interviewing process was all puzzles and math tests and business case, tricky, you know, hard questions and it felt there was pressure and it was, and I thought, “Wow, this is really cool. I can’t believe people get paid, you know, to do this stuff.”

And, you know, I was very fortunate that they wanted me to come aboard. And so I did join and started out in the telecom media tech space. And it was, you know, for me, management consulting was like going to work every day and getting to learn every day.

And if you’re still in your management consulting journey, the people that were around me, my immediate managers, my immediate seniors, principals and even partners and global practice leaders, eventually, you know, as you sort of move up the chain, you meet these people. And also many, many, many people that I came across inside the companies and the many engagements on different continents and all over the US.

This is your golden opportunity to build your network. Because look around at the consulting firm that you’re at, and there are very few people, you know, that are still consulting when they’re, you know, 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, you know, that are just unbelievable, that really make a career of it. And the consulting firms have done more to find ways to keep some of those folks around by creating like business intelligence units and other training units and things to keep some of that talent around. But the reality is, like, 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 that is, 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. And I mean, I spent nine years in it and I still, to this day, regret that I didn’t kind of optimize that specific point and I think about it actually often, even now.

Eric Pritchett: Yep. And the reason I make this point is, you know, 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 you know, back in my day, I mean, you were on the road every week for the most part, unless you were on vacation. And you know, you’re well supported in that regard, but it is a very, for a young person, especially, it’s a huge adjustment. And it almost becomes, you know, a lifestyle, to be able to deliver on these demanding projects and also have, you know, any semblance whatsoever of a social life.

And so a couple of things that you have to remember, network like crazy, make sure that you stay connected with the, you know, when you meet people at a client’s site, give it 3-4 months after the engagement. And then, you know, 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, you know, every engagement that you ever do. But you know, if the 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 and learn how to be generous and flatter people.

Tell people if you learn something from them. Say, “You know what, when I did that project, you know, 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.”

Right? And 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 my, you know, back to where I work here…” And fill in the blank, Cambridge, Chicago, Houston, whatever. And 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.

Right? So if you’re a good performer, right? Be generous about the fact that, like, “Hey, I’m learning from you too. That I was the one delivering that assignment, but I learned a lot of great things.”

And 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, is they realize that they want to do, or they needed to do something besides consulting at a point where they’re really approaching or they’re already at burnout.

And so 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: Yeah. And quite honestly that’s when they usually call us, right. And it’s like, “Oh crap, you know, what do I do now?”

And your point on being genuine about kind of telling people what you learned from them, it’s funny because it’s like one of these things to me that, maybe I’m just lucky that it comes kind of naturally to me because of my personality type or something like that, but I call it like the, give a shit rule, right.

And it’s like, if you just, give a shit, right? And you let people know, it’ll come back to you kind of tenfold, right. And it’s, okay, it’s not like that same person is gonna, you know, hire you tomorrow or whatever, but you never know what’s going to happen 3, 5, 10, 20 years even down the road.

And so also my big takeaway from your kind of 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. So I’m learning that Eric is secretly a geek. And so that’s my big takeaway from that.

Okay. So then, you know, you do a couple of years in consulting. You did six, I think like six years in consulting, right?

Eric Pritchett: Yeah. It was, in that neighborhood, yeah.

Ken Kanara: Okay. And then, and then you kind of, went out on your own, if I’m not mistaken, right? Then you kind of transitioned to become an entrepreneur.

Eric Pritchett: So there was a transition, but my exit from consulting was actually, you know, the partner that had really been a great champion of mine was kind of looking around to go do other things in his own career. And so the, kind of, writing was on the wall and there were a number of us that had been quite tight in that practice.

And so, you know, guys started looking around. And I was one of them and an opportunity came along to go take a technology leadership role at a Wall Street firm. And it was going to require a move to Manhattan. And right around this same time, I was getting married to my wonderful wife, who I’m still with. And now, we have a 14-year-old and a 12-year-old.

And so, you know, I went back to her and said, “Hey, I think this would be cool.” And you know, 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 kind of thing. So I was like, “Hey, you know, I’ve been in telecom and tech, but this finance, you know, finance and Wall Street looks interesting.”

And of course, this was before ‘08, when that became like the worst idea ever. So I took an opportunity to go to work in Manhattan with a sort of a boutique shop. And my wife and I moved to Manhattan. Two phenomenal years there, phenomenal people, a lot of great people. And then had an opportunity to go back up to Boston to start the first of two financial services firms that were basically FinTech, you know, sort of, you know, engineering-driven, financial, a hedge fund and a broker dealer.

Ken Kanara: So that’s pretty cool. And it also goes to your point just around kind of networking, right? So even partners will leave, right? At a certain point. And it’s just staying kind of plugged in, not just with clients, but with people at the consulting firm, right. They go on to do really interesting things, which is part of the reason we have this show.

Eric Pritchett: So I’ll tell you a mistake I made, and I’ll tell everyone this, that’s looking at, you know, what to do next in your career. So 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 kind of a mentor of mine when I was a consultant. And we had sort of been had a two-year gap because I’d been in New York, and he’d been doing consulting or whatever he was doing there. And he calls me up and he goes, “Hey,” he goes, “I’ve got this unbelievable opportunity to go to this company, Asurion, as their Chief Marketing Officer. And like, I’m calling up some of the old guys and I think this is going to be like an unbelievable opportunity.” And I was like, “Oh.”

It was like, you know, and so we caught up and I said, you know, “Thanks so much for giving me a call but you know, I’m starting my own thing. And like the ink’s like drying on this thing, I’ve just set up.”

And so what’s funny is, you know, he went to Asurion when the market cap was probably 350 million. And 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.

And so it’s funny, I did end up at Asurion later on in my career, leading corporate investing and M&A and, you know, lots of wonderful people there. And when I transitioned to that role, it was again, ultimately through, you know, connections I had made 15 years earlier in my career. You know, you build that credibility in your 20s and early 30s and people understand, you know, what you’re all about and your work ethic and that you’re sharp and how you go about things.

And, you know, 15 years later, that reputation and those networks are still there. So 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 put right in my face. And I said no to it. And needless to say, you know, 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, you know, 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? So I guess the, you know, the other silver line 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 and gotten to know in consulting. How do you make the leap from there to kind of like where you are now?

Eric Pritchett: Yeah, so when I talk to consultants, I sort of 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, sort of, have more ownership and more long-term operational roles, and this is something that people kind of torture themselves about.

And it’s really, when I think about the consulting skillset, I sort of think about people who have been trained and they’ve been put in the presence of complexity and ambiguity, right? I mean, 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. And so what consultants are really good at, the good ones, is they come into this complexity and they transform the complexity by using frameworks, right? They’re trained to use frameworks.

Let’s use, you know, people, process and technology framework, or let’s use, you know, a kind of an SS and a 2B, or let’s use some type of, you know, investment framework or let’s use a, you know, a strategic forces kind of framework. I think, you know, Porter’s and all those are out there.

And so they’re very good at sort of saying, let’s apply a framework. And then through the framework, things start to become more tangible. And then through that process, you bring in these people skills, together with this, actually, this challenging combination of people skills and analytical skills.

And through the deployment of those, you come up with new insights that you have to communicate very effectively. So if you look at that path that a consultant has to take on every engagement, it’s an incredibly strong skillset. And so, you sort of have to do a Jedi mind trick to say, you know, these same types of skills are going to apply themselves to operating. The only difference is, you know, 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. And so, you know, consulting has, like, a high respect factor on, usually, you know, smarts and hard work, and there’s usually a relatively low accountability factor in terms of, hey, you give a company. I mean, who advised, you know, Time Warner to buy AOL? You know, wouldn’t we love to know that? Or, you know, you can sort of come up with all these disasters, you know, it’s famous, the people that were consulting, you know. Enron, you know, I think their whole accountancy firm literally doesn’t exist anymore. It was so bad.

But you know, you have this, the big part is to understand that going into an operating role is kind of, sort of, up the accountability side. And you’re going to have to really exit go 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 surprise from candidates all the time. So folks will come directly out of consulting, top, top firms, and then kind of be surprised that their consulting experience isn’t like putting them into like a CEO role right away. It seems a little bit like maybe funny to us because, right? Like I, at this point in my life, probably value execution way more than pontificating about really good ideas. I’d say that’s definitely kind of like one area where I’d say consulting, maybe kind of like fall short. It’s a little bit academic.

Where else do you feel like there were kind of like gaps or hurdles that you had to overcome to get to kind of like, you know, in a position where you are now?

Eric Pritchett: So you do have people leadership in consulting, rights? So by the time you’re even just a, you know, a manager or even if you get up to engagement leader or principal, you know, you’re at a point where you’re leading teams and you’re leading teams even, oftentimes, you know, multiple projects and different parts of the world, you know, simultaneously. So you certainly get opportunities to lead people, but you’re leading people that are all kind of very, very, very highly selected.

Okay. And so it’s different, it’s one kind of challenge to lead. You can think about it as, you know, it’s one thing to lead, you know, a platoon of Navy Seals or even, you know, a platoon of Marines, right? These are highly, highly motivated, highly self-selected candidates that end up in these places.

And it’s another thing to be a great leader in the, you know, in the army. I would argue that’s where the bigger challenge lies from a leadership point of view, right.

And so oftentimes, management consultants have kind of a jarring transition where they’re like, oh my gosh, I just went from leading, you know, every person on every team I’ve ever been staffed on are all, you know, Ivy or U Chicago people or whatever, and all these insane overly type A, you know, triple undergraduate, major type people.

And then when you get into corporate settings, especially the large corporate settings, it’s a whole different world of the, you know, the HR makeup is different. And so it’s kind of like, “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 know, you have to adapt and learn new things about the new assignment quickly, but you can’t assume that it’s going to be just exactly the same.

Ken Kanara: Yeah. And not only that is the team, right. We joke at consulting, we’re all insecure overachievers, right? So you’ve got a team of insecure overachievers, but also it’s a smaller team, right? Especially if you think about like, you know, some of the top tier strategy firms, like it’ll be 2-3 people teams, and it’s like, that doesn’t really always translate well to, “Hey, I’m going to run a 200-person operations team,” right?

There’s a lot of, kind of, nuanced learning that needs to happen kind of like on the way to get there.

So we got a little bit of time left, I wanted to also kinda just ask you, so we ask all of our guests. Okay, we’re building kind of like a library of resources. If there’s one book that you could recommend that has been kind of like helpful on your journey, you know, whether it’s life or career what would it be?

Eric Pritchett: Well, so for life, I’m gonna say, I would recommend more economy. So you know, Japanese author and, he’s written a ton of books in Japanese, a ton of them have been translated in the US. But the first one that got translated in the US was called “A Wild Sheep Chase.” And 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.

And if you’re looking for someone, a recent one, for a bit more business and sort of motivational and leadership-oriented, I would say Ben Bergeron, as the author, Ben Bergeron, B-E-R-G-E-R-O-N. And his book is “Chasing Excellence: A Story About Building the World’s Fittest Athletes.” And 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 and female and 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, you know, and mental strength, whatever the task may be, business or otherwise.

Ken Kanara: Oh, that’s cool. Are you a CrossFitter?

Eric Pritchett: So I’m not a CrossFitter. My wife is pretty serious about fitness.  I have a point of view where, you know, I do walks with the dog and, sort of,  you know, 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, you know, playing the long game here, you know, trying to manage my diet and trying to get outdoors a lot and have, you know, hiking and walking. And that sort of exercise is how I get by.

Ken Kanara: Great. So Eric, like I said, thanks so much for joining us today. I just want to kinda like step back now, kind of, to Terzo, right. Obviously, really interesting kind of like enterprise solution that you guys have out there. Where are you, you know, kind of in your journey and kind of like, where are you guys looking to go?

Eric Pritchett: In our journey now, the company was incorporated in, this date’s kind of funny, March 16th of 2020. So we are literally a pandemic company. You know, we started the company with the two US-based co-founders 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 today.

You know, a lot has happened in 2020, you know, it took real strength of mine 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, and really just. We’re truly at the beginning stages of trying to figure out what this all could be.

And some really good people, you know, joined in 2020. We landed our first customer in December of 2020, which was a goal for that year was 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, some real good, 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, you know, data-oriented businesses.

And that gave us a nice push. And then things started really coming together for us when the new year came on. I think everybody was excited about vaccines and sort of excited about, “Hey, business leaders are going to start, you know, things are going to kind of open back up and investors and business leaders are gonna get refocused now on, you know, the world has to go on.”

And so 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 kind of coming back to life and that’s who we’re trying to sell to, and the investors were kind of coming back to life and that’s who we were trying to attract as investors.

And so, you know, in March we closed our first big enterprise customer, big international bank. And then in April, we followed that on with one of the largest retailers in the world. And that sort of, back-to-backing those two wins really galvanized investors that we had been talking to all throughout the fall.

And so, on the back of those two wins, you know, 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, right.

So now, you’ve got enough of attraction with some big customers, and you’ve got some, 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 kind of open for business, for lack of a better description, and where, you know, there’s, you know, you’ve got a 6 million plus kind of Metro here with a very diverse talent set,  diverse in every way, you know, it’s a cosmopolitan place and it’s a very educated place.

And so we knew we could land here and put together, you know, finance and accounting and marketing and you know, all these different teams, customer success, you know, data science. You know, if you want it, you can build it in places like this. And so, we started to get ourselves organized here.

And then 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, US state on board, which was a huge win because it’s public sector. And then, we got our largest, whenever 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. And, you know, then everything just kind of become a blur. Starting the new year, you know, our first quarter this year, first quarter of 2022, is probably gonna surpass, in one quarter we’ll probably surpass our total sales to date, in a quarter.

And as you mentioned, right, when you kicked off the call, like 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 kind of structures.  And we’re still seeing use cases in the, sort of, later stage, you know, high growth start-ups, sort of pre-IPO type of space, where companies are, maybe, preparing for an IPO, and wanting to up level a lot of their compliance and a lot of their processes to get ready for some of these SEC requirements around disclosure and you know, all the stuff that happens when you accept that role.

And so, we literally just added, between February 15th and March 1, we just onboarded, roughly 20 new employees. We went over 60 employees now, globally. And we’re going to be setting up shop.  We operate in India, the US and Canada, right now.

And we’re setting up Terzo Europe in Switzerland in the next couple of months. And, you know, 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, you know. If you’re building a real business that people are excited about, you know, investors are open for business and, you know, any way you like your 18-hour day tumbled together.

That’s how we’re doing it right now, but it’s, you know, it feels good because we’re making great progress and we’re very excited about what’s going on. And we 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, kind of a role like you have with Terzo, is that the 18-hour days aren’t going away any time soon.

Well, good stuff, Eric, really appreciate you joining us today. If anybody wants to kind of like 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, fade, sort of triangular logo. That’s who we are. If you want to check us out on LinkedIn.

And 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, you know, for folks, you know, for management consultants and the 18-hour, you know, the 18-our sort of workday kind of comment, you know, it’s, 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, you know, I don’t want to be doing something if I’m not passionate about it.

And so, and then when I am passionate about it, I tend to be, you know, working at it a lot because I get very focused on it. But at the same time, you know, it’s not really 18 hours, you know, every day, all the time. I mean, it comes in fits and starts. And I do think it’s important for young people to realize it’s important to have, your goals can be outside of just work.

So, you know, my wife is amazing, and I’m blessed with amazing 14-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son, who I have great relationships with and, you know, have spent time with them over the years, as well. So, if you want to look at a philosophy of how companies are kind of going at it today, and this includes Terzo, I think there is a more conscientious approach.

And so Terzo, Brandon Card, and I have both taken the conscientious pledge. And 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, you know, 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. And so, 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. And we’re, you know, we’re about working hard, but we also care a lot about folks enjoying their lives.

Ken Kanara: Yeah, I think that’s a good kind of concluding point. I don’t know about you, but what I’ve kind of observed, in consulting, I felt like we were doing 18-hour days to do 18-hour days. Whereas like now, you know, for a lot of good reason, change has happened. Like what you’ve just pointed out, and it’s a lot more fluid. It’s a lot more kind of integrated with life. And it’s less about kind of like the amount of hours that you’re doing, but just kind of like, you know, the fulfillment and the output that you’re generating.

Eric Pritchett: That’s right. And you’ve got to realize, like, times like right now, you know, if you’re going to onboard 20 new employees and grow your company by 30% and have a quarter that exceeds the, you know, 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, you know, year-round, right?

You have to learn how to, you know, there was a great HBS article, “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.” And so that’s, if you, sort of, operate that way, where you accept that, sometimes you’re gonna 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, you know, are you getting the results you want and are you managing the output and delivering, you know, the way that you wanted?

Ken Kanara: I like that kind of paradigm in terms of managing your energy, because that’s how you would approach like a workout, right? Now you’re speaking my language.

Well, 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 being so important. It is one of the most beautiful interfaces I’ve ever seen, in terms of kind of an enterprise software. So whatever you guys are doing there, keep it up and look forward to kind of 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 mail go. So, 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.

Published On: April 22nd, 2022|Categories: Beyond Consulting, Podcast|

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