I had a great conversation with James Glover, CEO and Co-Founder of Coherent Path about his affinity for startup life and his latest venture.
A five-time entrepreneur, Glover and his co-founder Greg Leibon, decided to use the foundational principles of one of their previous companies and apply it in a new scenario: struggling retailers who are trying to keep up with the changes brought about by digital behemoths like Amazon.
Glover’s third company, Memento, was a fraud-detecting software business that helped large financial institutions save millions of dollars in annual losses due to theft and fraud. The software was able to predict fraudulent behavior. While it was a fulfilling challenge to take on, the reality was that there wasn’t a large addressable market to keep Glover engaged in pursuing as an independent business and therefore had a successful exit with the sale to FIS.
Following the exit, he took two-and-a-half years off (but “off” is taken lightly, he actually started another startup in that time) while his co-founder Leibon, a mathematician, spent time developing the math needed to build a new software business.
“We love this idea of modeling a customer’s journey,” said Glover. “In the case of Memento we were trying to detect counterfeits and we decided to think about applying it on the revenue side of the equation.”
“We believed we had an analytical toolset to help retail, who is under duress and help them make the transition in a painful period to thrive again,” Glover further explained.
Coherent Path is an email marketing company that focuses on bringing in customer data to help their clients increase revenue. Coherent Path works with iconic American brands including L.L. Bean, Neiman Marcus, and Staples to help them predict their customer’s behavior online.
Glover and Leibon were able to attract many of the employees who were part of building Memento to join them at Coherent Path. Glover shared that taking responsibility for measurable ROI helped to keep former employees interested in working with him again.
“It’s easier to attract talent when you take responsibility for that last mile and you say, ‘I am accountable and responsible for the success that is generated with my product,’” the CEO said. “I think people are really attracted that kind of startup.”
Glover also attributes that this approach impacts the scalability of a startup as a measurable success is more repeatable to bring and repeat at another organization.
When it comes to adding to the team, Glover looks for people who are, “hungry, humble and smart, we prioritize those virtues above everything else.”
Experience isn’t as much of factor for being hired at Coherent Path. For example, the head of the services group has a Ph.D. in structural engineering, hasn’t worked at a software company and his last job was working on a nuclear power plant. While it may seem that his experience is out of left-field, his focus and intelligence is an asset for many of their customer engagements with retail marketers.
“We were the only ones fishing in that pond for that talent,” Glover said. “That’s a competitive advantage from our perspective. Look in places where other people aren’t looking.”
Glover shared a number of other examples of employees with a variety of backgrounds and how that diversity of experience is translating really well into this market. While it takes additional training to get these employees up to speed on the language of the market, Glover says that the upside has been enormous. He’s selecting individuals who are hungry enough to make an impact and humble enough to make a career change.
His advice to entrepreneurs - if you see your customer’s success as your own – you’re much more likely to be a success yourself.