After Helping Other Companies Grow, A Lecturer Launches His Own
For the past 20 years, Andrew Sherman has been helping Washington area technology companies grow as a regular on the workshop circuit and as a teacher in university MBA programs.
Now he's taking the show on the road to see if he can make a profit teaching the same lessons to entrepreneurs around the country.
Sherman, a lawyer by trade, fell in love with the corporate world when a trade publication hired him to write a few short articles about issues affecting small businesses. Since then, he has written 13 books about how companies grow and has become an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland and Georgetown University .
Sherman began to shake up his career in February when he moved his well established practice at McDermott, Will & Emery to Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky . When he made the jump, he did so with a couple of conditions, he says. The first was that he could continue teaching at the universities. The second was that he could -- for the first time after years of speaking on the topic -- start his own business.
Today, Sherman is launching Grow Fast Grow Right Enterprises LLC . The plan is to hold a series of day-and-a-half-long workshops around the country for executives of companies that are beyond start-up mode but are still facing challenges as they try to build big businesses.
"If you're a start-up company, there are tons of resources available to you, and if you're a Fortune 100 company, you can go buy those resources, but we perceive a gap in the middle market," Sherman said. "It's in this . . . stage where they often fall to their death."
The workshops will cover issues such as managing employee growth, how to acquire and integrate other companies, where to look for additional capital and how to capitalize on intellectual-property assets.
Sherman says he knows that the venture is risky and that there is no guarantee executives will show up for the workshops -- his reputation in Washington may not hold much sway in Phoenix. But he has a 20-city tour lined up and is ready to take the leap.
"I've spent a lot of time teaching companies how to harvest intellectual capital. . . . I felt it's time to walk the walk and harvest my own," Sherman said.
One of the visionaries of Washington's technology revolution reemerged on the scene this week. William L. Schrader , founder of PSINet Inc ., the Ashburn Internet service provider that rose and fell with the technology bubble of the 1990s, announced that he signed on as chief executive of Map ROI Systems Inc. , a Sterling software start-up.
So what are the lessons of a tech bust education? "Don't take on too much debt. Make a profit long before anybody thinks you should," Shrader said.
Oh, and one more thing: "I don't want to raise any more billions of dollars on a public market."