An entrepreneur’s mind revolves around new ideas and opportunities for innovation. There is a continuous and conscious effort required to look for opportunities and evaluate the risks in entering them. Entrepreneurship involves the constant examination of existing business workflows and identifying ways to carry them out in a more efficient and effective way. In simple words, entrepreneurship works toward the optimization of business.
Walter Paley, Director of Marketing at SafeLogic, believes every entrepreneur must be an innovator in himself. One must be able to identify the missing pieces of a puzzle and how to create new solutions. To use a familiar platitude, an entrepreneur must be able to think outside the box.
Creating a Brand for SafeLogic
Walter came to SafeLogic by an invitation from the founder, Ray Potter. They met through a mutual contact, who introduced them to each other and they immediately established a good rapport. Being a start-up, the company didn’t have a logo, website, or even a name in the beginning. As Marketing Director, Walter’s first challenge at the outset was to create a brand for the company. The challenge was to create something that would match the personality of the founder and reflect how they planned to be seen by the industry.
SafeLogic provides strong encryption products for solutions in mobile, server, cloud, appliance, wearable, and IoT environments that are pursuing compliance to strict regulatory requirements. Their flagship product, CryptoComply, provides drop-in FIPS 140-2 compliance with a common API across platforms as well as drop-in compatibility options for OpenSSL & Bouncy Castle. Boasting a roster of leading companies as clients, including Raytheon, EMC, Oracle, Juniper Networks and Symantec Corporation, SafeLogic also provides software and services to start-ups and mid-cap companies in a variety of industries.
Reflections on His Differences
In a candid discussion with a colleague, Walt reflected on how much his skills and perspective may have changed with “a different university background.” As Walter spends a great deal of time writing, as part of his marketing and corporate communications role, he contemplated what a different angle he may have had, if he studied literature or communications as his undergraduate major, as opposed to psychology. It is possible that Walter’s writing could have lacked his present personal style, had he been mentored and shaped by a college professor, and could have resembled a more classical prose. More polished in some ways, but also more mainstream, for better or worse. This is something that made Walter understand what difference it could have made in him personally. He believes that this attribute of someone “being different” than others is a clear advantage for an entrepreneur.
Lessons Learned While Working with Start-up Executives
Walter had worked as a marketing consultant for few years before joining SafeLogic. The biggest hurdle was always to establish a trust level and deliver reassurance to a start-up executive that their company’s reputation is in good hands. Transparency was crucial. It was essential that you could make them understand who you are, how you work, and the governing ethics that you follow.
There are two major lessons that have impacted Walter’s career. “First, you are your own boss, your own advocate, and your own support system. If you don’t like the way things are being done, you must speak up. As a consultant, you are the CEO of your own company. Address issues that way. When you meet with a client or a prospective client, you are meeting as equals, seeking a solution together. The second lesson is to keep a schedule. Don’t let things fall between the cracks. Maintaining a comprehensive calendar and mastering a ‘To Do List’ keeps you accountable to yourself. Also, always have a plan. You can always deviate from the plan, but you have to start with something.”
Refusal in Compromising His True Values
Walter has earned a reputation for building brands with minimal resources, including two successful acquisitions, Nukona (acquired by Symantec) and Bitzer (acquired by Oracle). Even though he has accomplished all these successes, Walter refuses to accept a work life that compromises his values. He believes that your family comes first, above your career or any other commitments you have.
Some inputs from Walter on what to do for entrepreneurs starting out. “Identify what makes your perspective unique and work from there. Prepare extensively, look at a variety of scenarios along the continuum, from absolute failure to absolute success, and be bold when opportunity is favorable.”
Entrepreneurship Is About Willingness to Accept Failure
Walter doesn’t classify himself as a risk-taker, but he agrees that being an entrepreneur is absolutely crucial to his personality. He believes that entrepreneurship is a calculated risk and a willingness to accept failure is a navigational beacon for your career. A belief in the entrepreneurial spirit gives you a confidence to believe in yourself even when it is difficult to do so. There are infinite ways to start a business and earn a living for yourself, so pick one and go for it. All this being said, he also accedes that not everyone has the appetite for the unknown. Many would rather remain on the same path they are already walking and not deter from it. There is a beauty to this contentedness, Walt says, but it is certainly not for everyone.