01 Sep 2006
Notebookby Margie KelleyTopics:
Elevator pitch: GetConnected processes voice, data, and video digital-service transactions for retailers. For example, if you walk into Best Buy and purchase a cell phone, we run your credit score and activate the account so you can walk out with a phone that’s ready to use. We tie together the retailers that sell digital services with the providers of those services by taking care of all the back-end transaction processing.
How we got the idea: My classmate and cofounder, Tracy Lawrence, and I were in our second year at HBS, and we were looking to start a business. Tracy’s parents were moving, and in the context of that move, we thought it would make sense for them to be able to go to a single Web site to sign up for services such as telephone, cable, etc. But there wasn’t one. A friend said that would be a fantastic business, so we started researching the opportunity and ultimately launched GetConnected to pursue it.
Best decision: We changed our revenue model. We originally wanted to become the Amazon.com of telecom, but we hadn’t raised enough money to build such a big brand. We decided instead to license our software applications — made to process digital-service transactions — to retailers like Best Buy, Circuit City, and RadioShack. We get paid for every service we process for them.
Biggest surprise: Human resources. We underestimated how important it is to be extremely aggressive about both bringing in super-talented people and getting rid of people who bring the organization down.
What I’d like to do over: Act more quickly on human resources issues.
What keeps me up at night: Managing a business that’s growing fast. When we were a small company, we were like a three-piece ensemble. Now we’re like an orchestra. The quicker you grow, the harder it is to keep everyone aligned. I worry about that.
On deck: The future is about convergence and how we position ourselves to sell any type of service — video, voice, data, entertainment — as efficiently as possible. The industry is changing fast, and while it means opportunity for us, it also means investment and change.
— Margie Kelley
Class of MBA 1999, Section E
Class of MBA 1999, Section F