“Successful companies are usually started, and become successful, with the contribution of at least two soul mates. After the fact, people may recognize one founder as the innovator, but it takes a team to make a new venture work.”
Guy Kawasaki – The Art of the Start 2.0
I think it is imperative for co-founding soulmates to have both similarities and differences.
When focused on similarities, I believe founders should share a unique intuition for how the startup and market will evolve. Not everyone may want to build an empire. Not everyone may want a local venture. What is essential, however, is a rebellious motivation against the mainstream schools of thought in order to advance knowledge. As Steve Jobs reminds us, the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. Founders should share this value at the core and, most importantly, they must share the eager desire to go beyond what is expected, in any realm.
Like the necessity of similarity, difference is crucial between co-founders as well. I’ve met people who are perfectionists, focused on the technicalities. Others, expansionists, envisioning the big picture. A successful startup, however, needs both types of persona to succeed. The more perspective, the merrier. Ultimately, differences are what allow founders to complement each other in order to build a great organization. I trust that collaboration is essential with every step.
With that in mind, let me introduce the soulmates that created HeavyWater.
Soofi Safavi, Co-founder of HeavyWater
The innovator. My career began in telecom R&D. During late 90’s, with the first wave of Artificial Intelligence application in finance, I started working as a Knowledge Engineer for Advanta Mortgage. I was most recently Chief Technology Officer at Radian Group, a mortgage insurer in Philadelphia. With fundamentally sound execution, I have been accountable for selling, initiating, and delivering technology projects throughout my career. While engrossed in the corporate world, I never lost touch with academia or my will to continuously learn; I have pursued advanced studies in operations management, computer science, machine learning, and AI at institutions like the University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins University, and Carnegie Mellon University.
I am also an authority and featured speaker on the topics of cloud computing and agile software development, where I try to instill new thought processes and share past and current experiences within each domain. I have a variety of publications, including a paper describing a successful application of evolutionary computation to a difficult and commercially significant constrained optimization problem. My family and I reside in the Philadelphia region, but we are ready to go wherever Heavy Water takes us.
Terry Schreiber, Co-founder of HeavyWater
The strategist. After graduation, Terry spent a decade in financial services operations. No one did operations in those days. The initial attraction for Terry was check processing, because computer-controlled machines read and sorted the check at high speed– robotics inside a bank. Technology was not nearly ready to do similar things elsewhere in banking. In fact, it was slow and difficult to implement any technology at all within this industry. At least he could share some operations process-related disciplines in other areas, like mortgage lending. So, he did.
Later, during more than 20 years in management consulting, Terry’s work increasingly blended strategy with operations and technology. A business minded and methodical thinker formed. With clients in banking and insurance in Asia Pacific, Europe and the U.S., a theme echoed his earliest observations: it is still difficult to achieve high operational impact from technology investment. Why can’t processes and technology, collectively, “get it right?”
We co-started HeavyWater because we think we’ve got it right. Our beliefs shape everything we do. We’ll have more to say on this, so keep an eye on this blog.