Crommunity Podcast | Episode 2019-01 | Jacqui Murphy (CMO, Auvik Networks) | Part I
“So often we don’t tell the stories about the places that we’re from. Everyone knows the legendary stories about how Apple started, and how HP started, and how Microsoft started, but they often don’t know the stories of companies in their own backyard, and the impact that they’ve had on the community.”
Jacqui is easily one of the faces of the Waterloo Region’s vibrant technology scene, owing to her extensive work in venture capital, her long-time support and involvement with Communitech, and the genuine long-lasting relationships she’s forged.
I’ve known Jacqui since 2005, but I’d never really sat down with her in-depth to poke away with questions; needless to say, I was very excited for our conversation. As it happened, we got (very politely) kicked out of our meeting room before we’d covered even half of what I’d hoped, without including the other topics that came to mind as we spoke.
So consider this instalment a Part 1, as I’ll be sitting down with Jacqui again in the near future for a seamless Part 2.
It’s difficult for me to convey just how much I loved this convo…it was the pure essence of what I hope to do with this Crommunity podcast: an easy, free-flowing conversation that explores interesting and important topics (including community, the Canadian technology scene, building relationships, supporting each other, the ‘dark side’ of high-stress jobs, mental health…), without agenda (either in the structural sense or in the ‘mission’ or ‘objective’ sense).
(for those who want to queue it up for future listening, here’s the mp3)
In Part 1, using Jacqui’s career arc to provide narrative structure (classic hero’s journey stuff!), we managed to cover a great deal…
- [1:30] A quick introduction to Jacqui’s diverse background: from academia, to marketing agency, to start-up, to venture capital, to non-tech entrepreneurship, and then back into tech
- [2:30] A bit about Auvik and the new challenges they’re addressing as they grow globally: “We have…different growth vectors that we’re focusing on: one is geography, one is go-to-market strategy, one is product development.”
“In university, I remember working through case studies and thinking, ‘Agh, these are all consumer packaged goods-type case studies, why aren’t there more tech case studies…?'”
- [5:56] How teaching at the Richard Ivey business school turned her into a natural presenter: “I had to, essentially, present…every single day. For two full years. You lose the butterflies.”
- [7:26] How Jacqui broke into the Kitchener-Waterloo tech scene, with an advertising agency: “I essentially stalked them until they hired me… I actually had to reach out them three times, and prospect them three times in order to get a job there.”
- [8:46] The experience that immediately highlighted the importance of real relationships: “I remember thinking at that time…I am going to build relationships with people.”
- [9:38] Touching on the close-knit nature of the local tech community
“It’s such a small community here, but with so many tentacles. So you’re really only one degree of separation away from most people.”
- [10:45] Cohort effects and how the relationships you build in your early career can (and likely will) shape the rest of your career: “Nobody is really senior at that point; I’m interacting with people who are junior, just like I am. But then 20 years later, we’re all the ones running the companies. It’s amazing: you blink, and then all-of-a-sudden you’re the oldest one in the room and you’re not sure how that happened.”
- [11:29] A fun trip down memory lane: back in 2005, I invited Jacqui and my friend and then-colleague Amanda Weber to come to the University of Waterloo to speak to technical students about tech marketing, in a session called “Marketing Today”
- [14:20] The PixStream story, from beginning to end, which continues to shape the regional tech scene today – to a degree that too few people understand and appreciate
“This is a story that I love to tell, because so often we don’t tell the stories about the places that we’re from. Everyone knows the legendary stories about how Apple started, and how HP started, and how Microsoft started, but they often don’t know the stories of companies in their own backyard, and the impact that they’ve had on the community.”
- [18:40] The story of Tech Capital Partners, which played an outsized role in venture capital in the greater Waterloo Region, and Jacqui’s decade helping to build more than a dozen local tech companies through deal sourcing, due diligence, marketing, board membership, …
- [24:20] The cost of stress: “At the end of that, though, I was so burnt out… To say ‘no’ that many times over ten years was damaging for me. I became very desensitized, and I didn’t like that.”
- [26:25] Risk mitigation, and the differences between venture capital risk and marketing risk: “Your mindset changes from guerrilla marketing to, ‘OK, how am I gonna mitigate these risks?'”
- [27:30] Why it became very difficult to raise VC funds in Canada…with great insights from the venture capitalist perspective
- [32:55] Some advice for new grads, as an alternative to immediate entrepreneurship
“We always said to entrepreneurs: build a company based on what you know. So if you’re just graduating from university, maybe don’t build a company then. Maybe go work for another company in an industry that you’re interested in, see where the gaps are, and then build a company around those gaps.”
- [36:41] The Art Allies story, the healing power of pursuing your passions, the beauty of art, and why you shouldn’t haggle with artists: “Art Allies healed my soul.”
- [42:56] Jacqui’s return to the high-tech scene and my glorious competitive foosball past: “The opportunity was really exciting for me; the management team that he had assembled was a team that I knew and really loved…”
- [45:20] The move to Auvik, and the ongoing importance of genuine, long-lasting relationships
- [46:38] The importance of hiring experienced, seasoned people – especially in the early stages
“In building out the marketing team here at Auvik, I aimed high in terms of seniority. So I brought people in at the manager and director level from the get-go. And I did that knowing that we’d be building this company, and we would have limited resources to start, so I really needed people who knew what they were doing…especially in areas where I didn’t necessarily have the expertise.”
- [49:15] Protecting and preserving your health while giving it all in a high-stress environment, and the dark side of becoming too emotionally invested in your job