On this week’s episode of Killer Innovations, Phillip Merrick joins us in the studio. Phillip and his wife Caren started a company called webMethods and pioneered the use of web services integrating, machines, software applications and databases with XML-based software integration technologies.
Phillip was the co-founder of a web-multimedia resume company VisualCV and is currently CEO of cloud security company Fugue, igniting their own innovations. As a serial entrepreneur he is accustomed to creating and disrupting market spaces and has had a number of his companies acquired. Phillip has been recognized for driving results including KPMG & Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Washingtonian Magazine “Titan of Technology”, and CRN “Top 25 Executive” as well as Deloitte’s fastest-growing software company in North America over the period 1998 to 2002. In 2000, webMethods went public on the NASDAQ in the most successful software IPO to date.
The 1st Mover Experience
Phillip was a software developer with a dream and when his wife, a marketing specialist, teamed with him it wasn’t immediate success. However, an initial journey of rejection and failure. Using credit cards to survive, going down to nothing financially they experienced the fear of many entrepreneurs. They had numerous rejections pitching to over 135 investors before they won over an initial venture investor in DC and eventually venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. Success started to take hold and led to more breakthroughs.
But why so hard! Well when you are creating a new space with a new technology you deal with 1st Mover pains. Many companies we know today from Apple to Google weren’t 1st Movers in a space, but Phillips vision of connecting machines to the web disrupted the market and challenged the norms into a new space. webMethod’s was challenged with people not getting what they had or were doing. His team convinced the market how to use the technology and how much easier it was. They proved it to global companies and markets from Phillip’s basement with the team of four getting a product in the hands of potential customers in record time.
Lessons from 1st Mover in a New Space to Existing Space
Phillip has moved from pioneering a space to pioneering in an existing space from VisualCV to self-healing infrastructure in cloud security with Fugue. He makes it clear that creating a space is definitely far and few in between and an exception–innovation happens in many ways in existing spaces. You can have innovation in how you productize, market and structure your business model. Innovation has to be in the idea, product development and driving execution. Philip’s advice for success is that you need to realize that innovation is not just about the idea. It is how you bring it to market, how you package it up for service, and how you build the team from recruiting to culture. From his journey he will tell you that “No idea comes away with contact with a customer in the same shape”.
What do you wish you knew early in your career?
Within reason you can do anything you put your mind to. Phillip was afraid of failure in a company, feared public speaking and overcome them. What’s interesting is with all of his successes at webMethod’s one of his breakthroughs was actually speaking insightfully in front of the public. There are not many limits you can’t overcome he states.
Philip says that in his career he is more focused on team building, not just the idea. Once you get all of that figured out, then you can focus on the idea.
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To hear the interview with serial entrepreneur and Fugue CEO Phillip Merrick, listen to this week's show: Phillip Merrick On Being The Innovation First Mover.