How I’m Running a Tech Company (As The Most Un-Tech CEO)

While I understand the broad strokes of technology, what we do, the purpose of AI, as well as its impact on the value of the organisation – I don’t entirely understand the technology.

When we started the business, I had gone through various courses and found that I struggled with the complexity of the technology that we work with.

But running a tech company requires a different set of skills.

It’s about understanding how to make AI work for our customers. And in order to do this, we require people who truly do understand these extremely complex decisions.

There are three critical components to the business.  

Not only do they need to understand these complex decisions, they need to be able to respond and solve the decision at the point of contact.

When I was in the marketing world 30 years ago, I could create an ad agency simply by following a template. Go and employ certain types of people, get a particular kind of investment,  and focus on bringing certain kinds of clients in. 

There was a kind of a formula.  

There’s no formula anymore. 

What you need is people who understand how to solve problems. And these people need to work in a way that is radically different to how our customers work. Because we have a responsibility to deliver the value to the customer. 

You’ve got to be truly agile and responsive and underlying our ability to solve the problems is the delivery capacity. So not only do you have to have really good people, you have to have really good processes and systems.

That’s why, within Teraflow, we have this idea of FloJo. A carefully crafted framework that acts as our mojo. 

And these two areas are where my experience and expertise sits.

It’s all about understanding how we: 

  • Create a decentralised model, 
  • Develop autonomous teams, 
  • Empower our people,
  • Enable our staff to find meaning and value in the work that they do.

In fact, our staff are so central to our way of working, that when our staff leave for new opportunities, they don’t leave us for good.  They go on to join our alumni.

And for me, this is an exciting equation, because they’ve created value in their lives and they’re moving on to something greater. Which is beautiful. It’s not a bad thing. 

The third component is that this is a technology company. 

There’s an important framework from entrepreneurship and how you run a business.  The basis is that you can’t focus on your weaknesses, but rather complement them with individuals that have the strengths to work with those weaknesses.

For example, in the context of my two co-founders, you’ve got Brett StClair on the one hand: He’s really good at understanding the market, the impact of technology, AI, etc. He’s been there and he’s done it. He’s worked at Google. He’s earned his chops in this AI world and was employed by Barclays to make use of his expertise. 

And so he’s perfected the way to do it.

Then we have Prinavan Pillay on the other: He’s a bright individual and has a phenomenal understanding of how SuperOps works, as well as the depth of the technology that we work with.  He understands words like ‘hyper-parameter tuning’ and where it fits into the greater picture. I get it, but I don’t understand it. Prinavan does. 

And between the three of us, by leveraging off each other’s strengths, we’re able to build this powerful business and make this work.

It’s a very good combination and I believe that it is central to our success. But we’ve each got our role to play.

I know my strengths and I stick to them. Even as the most un-tech CEO running a tech company.

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