The Twenty Minute VC with Paul English
Our CEO and co-founder, Paul English, sat down with Harry Stebbings on 20 Minute VC Podcast this week to discuss his career background, steering the world of startups and VCs, along with his current venture that is disrupting the business travel industry: Lola. Here is a link for the full podcast, but we’re also sharing key insight from the interview below:
- The Method to Paul’s Idea Generation Process - The key to this is creativity as a response to an issue. When Paul comes across something that irritates him, he gets stuck on the problem and continuously thinks about how it impacts other people. If the first solution doesn’t work, he remains fixated on it, leading him to think of something else. He laser focuses on the problem that allows him to keep iterating until he finds a true solution. With so many ideas floating around, Paul shares them with close friends, family members and colleagues before pitching to see if they’ll stick. If the idea excites them, he begins sharing with more people until he knows it’s worth the effort. That’s when he begins coding and truly working on the logistics behind the idea.
- How to Build the Right Team - Growing up in West Roxbury in a family of nine living in a small house, Paul learned at an early age to tune into the feelings of those around him. Keeping this with him throughout his life, he’s remained tuned into how people get along and work, which helps him to better understand how to build and lead teams. When hiring an employee, Paul seeks someone with humility that he can see as a collaborator. He advises others to aim high, find someone that inspires them and find a way to come up with a shared vision to build something they can’t do on their own. He notes that the one mistake some tech founders get wrong is hiring people that are subservient. He believes that you should actually always hire people smarter and stronger than you, and says, “Find someone electrifying that you can learn from.”
- What to Look for in VCs - As a creative entrepreneur who is constantly thinking of the grand vision, Paul looks for someone that can articulate an idea and position it really simply - the most important focus at the beginning of a venture - while also driving the team to do more and providing positive encouragement.
- Approach to Board Management - Paul believes each member of the board needs to be high functioning, while also connecting with each other. As a leader, he also stresses the importance of coaching board members on how to behave in meetings, making sure that everyone is efficient and cohesive. Additionally, ensuring that you have clarity on what your team does well, what they are held accountable for, and what you don’t want their input on are things that are essential to being productive. While many things are discussed within board meetings, he believes it’s important to goal yourself to leave each meeting with two or three essential action items to accomplish before the next meeting.