Luca Bonmassar is Gild‘s Co-founder and Chief Product and Technology Officer, overseeing product vision and development for the company. Luca is a serial entrepreneur with a strong technical background and excellent track record of founding profitable startups. Before starting Gild, Luca worked for top-tier companies like Nokia and Vodafone. Follow him @lucabonmassar.
Who is your hero?
Elon Musk is the model of a successful entrepreneur who has impacted several different markets.
Musk co-founded X.com (later rebranded as PayPal, after merging with Confinity). PayPal has of course redefined online payments, becoming the de facto standard for online transactions. Musk also co-founded SpaceX, which develops and manufactures space launch vehicles. And most recently, he co-founded Tesla Motors, a breakthrough in the design and production of electric cars.
In my book, Musk has earned his place in history with his vision and innovation in multiple markets and technologies.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
I think too many businesses focus on what they do and sometimes on how they do it, but very rarely on why. Business discussions often center on the next product launch or newest features and enhancements, or how to handle the latest competitive threat or newest business opportunity. But very rarely do businesses think about why they are doing what they are doing. Why are they in business in the first place? The “why” should be the driving force behind everything a company (or an individual) does. The “why” is the primary reason a business exists. Once a company or entrepreneur understands their “why,” the “how” and the “what” will follow. Check out Simon Sinek explaining the golden circle in his TED Talk.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
When I first got started in business, I did not place the right energies on the hiring process. Everyone says that people are at the heart of a successful business. However, hiring is often perceived as an impediment – something that detracts energy from a person’s primary job function. How many times have you heard someone say, “I want to focus on my job, not screening candidates. I have too much to do!”
The reality is that a business is only as good as its people. So spending the right amount of time (and money) to get the best people, the right people, is worth the investment. Today there are a lot of innovative tools to help with the recruiting process. But you also need to invest the time. It’s not someone else’s job to do the hiring. If it’s your business or your project, you need to be engaged.
Now, I reserve at least 20 percent of my time for hiring. I reserve slots in my calendar in advance. I use this time for interviews, screening, sourcing and to train and on-board new starters. The first 90 days in a new role are the most critical. So find the time to be available to support new hires.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Gild embraces a geographically dispersed, remote workforce. We have employees scattered across multiple time zones, including a large staff in Europe. First thing in the morning, I catch up with our European business to learn about the progress that has been made while I was asleep. Asynchronous communication is great. I can read and follow up at my own pace.
Once I’m all caught up with our folks in Europe, I set my calendar for the day. It is partially filled with pre-existing meetings, so I fill the gaps with real time activities for the day. I plan everything ahead – including breaks to manage emails and possible interruptions. The Pomodoro Technique has been very effective for me (I’m a big fan!).
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
A very simple trick for managing cash flow is to make it extremely easy for your customers to pay you. Agree on simple terms so it’s easier to track when a payment is overdue. Automate the process as much as you can. If you are processing payments online, make the charge-back and refund policies crystal clear. And automate renewals so you don’t have to ‘re-win’ your customers every year.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Create an environment where everyone is free to speak up and share their ideas, fears and doubts. If employees are not allowed to share fears and criticisms with management, the conversation is usually taken to the water cooler, which is not good. You want to create a culture where people talk freely about problems and push for improvements. This is a culture in which issues are addressed and teams are much more productive. An open culture builds trust.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
The success of a business is directly tied to the company’s “why.” Each company has a different motivation and thus a different measure of success. Personally, my goal is to make a significant contribution to the way talent is discovered and human capital is deployed worldwide. It begins with my own team. I’m building an environment where people have the opportunity to step up and prove their talent. Our (Gild’s) mission is to bring meritocracy to hiring in the professional world. This said we measure success by the number of lives we touch; the number of lives we change by opening the door to opportunity — helping companies identify the best talent in the industry.