Ronald-Richardson

Age: 29

Company: Benbria Corp.

Location: Kanata, Ont.

Full profile of Ronald Richardson

What do you think was the smartest single thing you did to get your business to the point it is at now?

When we landed our first Fortune 1000 customer, we elected to 'give' this deal to the channel, at a significant cost to Benbria. So, instead of selling directly to the customer, we offered our channel partner the chance to 'resell' our solution and retain a healthy margin as a result. This decision cost us heavily in margins, delays, legal process, and even customer frustration. The long-term benefit, however, was immense: This single decision hugely impacted our credibility and internal 'refer-ability' with this carrier partner, and that has since led to long-term value that dwarfs the original costs.

Can you think of something you might have done differently, or a decision you would change, that would have made it easier to get your business to this point?

I would have delayed looking at revenue as a success metric. Investors ultimately want a ROI, and revenue absolutely should be at the centre of future corporate valuations. However, if revenue is prioritized during the formative months and years over metrics that measure customer return and repeatability—metrics like user stickiness, usage metrics, use-case similarity, proven customer ROIs—the business will undoubtedly take on paid projects that contribute to near-term revenue but divert attention, even if only temporarily, from core competencies and long-term value creation. Focus on the front bowling pin.

Do you think the rewards of being an entrepreneur outweigh the investment you make in time and effort to run your own business? What are those rewards for you?

Absolutely, the rewards of entrepreneurship far outweigh the risks. Those rewards include learning, credibility, and impact. From having to hire or fire a friend through being prime on negotiating an international distribution agreement, I continue to learn personally and love every minute of it. Secondly, my success has given me credibility among friends, family, and peers. And, finally, to have created so many jobs, created revenue for myself and our partners, and to be producing technology that solves real problems for our customers means we are making a social impact that would be hard to match.

Return to "The Next Generation: Canada's Top Young Entrepreneurs, 2012″

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