the Entreprenuer and the Intrapranuer – OLT and Recombo

I choose the Recombo pitch and that of Michelle – OLT. First of all, I too quite enjoy the scrutiny of these videos. Like dissecting a frog for the first time. The more you do it, the more you get out of it.

I selected Recombo and OLT because I believe these two people define the entreprenuerial and the intraprenuerial spirit. Two terms that were less clear to me before the pitches. Brad was about venture capital and Michelle needed to work within the constraints of her company walls. Both video clips enlighten me to a world of work that is very different from mine.

It is evident that Michelle is experimenting with management techniques such as work coop students, IT people who were senior design members and students who were the “knowledge builders.” A form of Open Source was developing here. Brad was looking at 100 million with an established repertoire of specialists.

In the opening first few minutes of Recombo, I expected a better pitch from Brad He seemed quite wordy and I found his confidence to be lacking somewhat and I found myself still asking, what does Recombo really do? I think it was his line, “great big huge piece of Technology on multiple computers and we can just add components together…” made me feel he was talking down to the listeners and left me wondering. Did he know that we were his intended listeners back in 05? The punch, for me, just wasn’t there. Having been previously interviewed in 04, maybe Brad felt that the viewers already had some background information re: Recombo, “Business Problem Solvers.” Michelle, on the other hand, seemed confident from the get go and clear with her responsibilities.

As Brad continued, I could now see he was becoming a master of his craft as he spoke often of integrative platforms that Recombo developed and controlled. He was clever enough to answer all questions and his depth was becoming apparent. His passion for the company began to shine and it was evident with contractual commitment with Lighthouse. They were their to solve “business problems.” Quite an undertaking of sorts for a company of only 12 people.

Michelle spoke eloquently at times describing the support required from her team and consequently, the expectations from OLT. She realizes it would be better to “outsource” – her mention of Wiki’s and Weblogs – rather than burden her central organization with something that is already available and supported. Why re-invent the wheel right? She is clear that the team does not become overburdened trying implement outside technologies. Her market niche is faculty and the kids on campus. She needed something effective, that was supported and over all, it had to work. Technical innovation came from a blend of “creativity and innovation” of a multitude of users, including staff. Who better than the end user to develop the product/process.

With the OLT, market readiness seems to be, shoot from the hip, though they seem to be standing on their own and Brad assures the viewer the Recombo is always market ready. I like his metaphor, “play well with others.”

Would I trust my money with these two at the helm…? Hmmm, I’m not quite sure. Probably, if I had some. I was, however, disappointed when Brad mentioned that he and partners would leave if they could not focus and “if the price is right, you sell.”  I guess I come from the old school where, “if it’s not right, you fix it.” And that means more focus.

Funny, there was never any mention of Mike Gardner – CEO of Recombo. Is he a recent transplant…?


1 davidp { 09.12.08 at 5:59 pm }

Yes, as you note, these pitches are time-dated and happened in the past. The conditions and context under which the pitches were originally made have shifted.

Recombo has had a complete restructure, with a new management team and CEO, and a very narrow focus to suit its technology. These things happen, and often it is the big investors who are the key board members that refocus the organization in response to emerging opportunity.

Timing has a critical effect, as the Chris Anderson TED Talk points out.

A good idea in 2000 or 2001 may not have played out then, but might now.

Anderson points to click-through ads of the type that fuel the blogosphere as now being a successful strategy. They were considered a suspect strategy in the beginning, but are working now because of Google adwords and adsense.

Spotting what Anderson calls the “crtitical inflection points,” and he names 4 of them, are good times to make a venture happen.

What MichelleL noted re. wikis and blogs has also changed, given we’re now riding on a blog provided by OLT.


2 David De Pieri { 09.13.08 at 10:59 am }

Hi Dave,

Shortly after I wrote this, I Googled Recombo and they are doing very well to say the least. Training Parter, Canada Tech, eMarketing101 and CNW Group (Newswire) – every one of these mags had good things to say about Recombo.

Must be exciting for you guys to watch this growth since its inception, or nearer to it.

Just for the h of it, I also went to the BBB site and searched Recombo. I couldn’t find anything about them, which I assume is a good thing.

Ask me to invest now… I’d say, “Yes” – in a NY second. 🙂


3 davidp { 09.13.08 at 11:50 am }

Positive press is a good thing. Helps build market presence for sure.

The real test would be to see how the company is doing financially.

However, this is difficult to do with private companies of this type. The only folks would get a look at the books would be shareholders, banks and venture companies with investment capital in the company.

With public companies, those that trade shares on stock exchanges, public records are available for scrutiny by both potential or existing investors and shareholders.


4 Ellen Wu { 09.13.08 at 1:44 pm }

Hi David,

I was quite shocked too, when I heard Brad mentioning selling the company if the price is right. To me, it would make much more sense that if the company’s doing well and “focused”, the founders would want to continue expanding the company and taking on more projects. However, I guess from a venture capitalist’s point of view, you sell when you can get the best deal. Also, if the company’s not focused or has not reached or found its focus, I doubt that other companies like IBM would be interested in it.

5 David De Pieri { 09.13.08 at 4:32 pm }

Hi Ellen,

Back in 1997, I built my first home from scratch. It was a Post and Beam in the beautiful ski country of Rossland, British Columbia. I was the general contractor and did most of the plumbing, insulating, interior finishing (baseboards, door and window trim, returns etc) and all of the outside landscaping with granite rock walls to boot. The house was beautiful. In 2002, we left for the Lower Mainland.

Everyone kept asking how we could leave such a gorgeous place.

For me, the excitement and passion was in building my place, in time, it eventually became just another house.

I think, to a degree, I understand why some players may bail out.

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