Things I learned enjoying 180-degrees horizons, drinking champagne, on slippers, in a casual Wednesday afternoon with Larry Ellison. Yes, that Larry Ellison.
– Wait. Seriously? How the hell the co-founder of a scrappy Brazilian start-up ends up with who arguably is the only true Software Titan still running his (US$ 200 Billion) business?
More on this later. But for now, just believe it happened. And here is what I will tell my grandchildren:
• Nobody cares about what you are doing? Good.
In a time where softwares has already eaten the world, it is hard to imagine that back in the 80’s Venture Capitalists would literally walk away when you told them you were building software. Not hardware. But that happened so often and for so long, that Larry actually had to bootstrap the company out of the revenues from its first customer. One that allowed him and his team to build the intellectual property that became the Oracle Database Version 2. Not version 1 – because nobody buys the first version of any software, right? Indeed. The first version was called version two.
• Diversity is key. And it may come from unusual places.
I just wonder how many nights of coding it takes for you to discuss your financial fillings with the pizza delivery boy. But that’s exactly how Oracle’s first financial manager was hired. The 9-engineer team was stuck in the mud, trying to get their Balance Sheet to balance, when pizza was brought-in by a Berkeley business student on a gig. Double awesomeness! And you may need some Sales people too. Even if you don’t know exactly what their job is (and they don’t help much with the code) – as Larry also found out later.
• Got from 15 to 50 employees? Cleared for 50.000
As Larry puts it, it seems the most difficult part of any company´s life is to get from 15 to 50 employees. That is when things that don´t scale must start to scale and daily operations get so troubled, people start to actually need and desire horrible stuff – like structure and processes. If you manage to get across that threshold, it is far more likely that you will succeed as a business.
Great Founder2Founder advice – heard directly from one of the greatest founders ever. “Founder2Founder” is a very rare event, as even Oracle’s higher ranked executives rarely sit face to face with Larry Ellison. This opportunity came as part of the Oracle Startup Cloud Acceleration Program (OSCA) on our trip to attend Oracle Open World 2017 in San Francisco, CA.
The program is led by Reggie Bradford, a 3-time founder whose last company was acquired by Oracle. Taking his experience as an entrepreneur, he crafted a program that aims to help start-ups to get flagship customers, revenues and R&D expertise leveraging on Oracle’s products, cloud and reach. It was a great honor for Runrun.it to be among the 1% of the companies who were selected for the program in Brazil. In my opinion this is probably the best suited acceleration program for a SaaS company like Runrun.it to attend.
With over 1,000 applications worldwide, OSCA is now running on São Paulo, Bristol, Paris, Tel Aviv, Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Singapore.
I couldn’t possibly end this post without thanking Oracle’s leadership in Brazil – Rodrigo Galvão, Fernando Lemos, Marcelle Paiva and Raul Miyazaki who are all extremely committed to make OSCA a great success.
Antonio Carlos Soares is Co-Founder at Runrun.it