Tom Stemberg Speaks At TiE Dinner Meeting
Tom Stemberg spoke at TiE-Boston’s monthly dinner meeting held at
Burlington Marriott on October 12, 2005. Stemberg, who is a Venture
Partner at Highland Capital Partners, is the founder and former CEO of
Staples. He disclosed business processes involved in success of Staples.
In the very interactive talk, Stemberg offered advice and tips on what
it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and how best to approach
investors for funding. His key piece of strategic advice sounds
easy too. "Never lose sight of the customer, I learned it from my
first-year marketing professor, and it's still the most important thing
to know,” he said. Focusing on customer needs
was the most important to take home from Stemberg’s talk. He gave
examples of companies such as Southwest, FedEx and Zoots, which very
nicely address customer’s needs. He also emphasized on paying
tremendous respect to frontline associates who work with customers.
He stated the importance of execution and said that it is 10 times more
important than the idea itself. Competition in the office goods
market is steep but Staples maintained its competitive advantage
through execution. Staples had advertised about availability of
cartridges for any printer and soon all the competitors did that.
Unlike Staples, the competitors did not stock the inventory with all
types of cartridges. Customers got disappointed at competitors’
stores while Staples was able to fulfill the needs of its customers.
His latest creation, a chain of children’s shoe stores called Olly
Shoes, traces its origins to the ill-fitting footwear he found his kids
wearing. "No store carried a broad enough selection of children’s
shoes, and when standard foot scale says you’re a seven, you’re a six
in one shoe, an eight in another, and a seven in a third," said
Stemberg. Olly uses an electronic scanning system to trace a child’s
feet and match them to pairs in stock
Stemberg’s entrepreneurial spirits allowed him to not only face the
many challenges of growing an organization, but more importantly to
anticipate where those challenges would arise and to put the
appropriate resources in place to deal with them. He knows both
entrepreneurship and investing and has mentored several successful
entrepreneurs in his career.
Vinit Nijhawan, President of TiE Boston began the meeting by presenting
the activities and achievements of TiE-Boston. He described the
membership benefits and asked the attendees to make use of them.
More information about TiE and its upcoming events can be found at
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