Coming from a strong finance background, here we see how HP and his partners make decisions from both the perspective of the investor and the entrepreneur. This makes for a very interesting study.
SM: The 12 million dollars that came as cash from outside – that is substantial chunk of money. Did you put in all of that money yourself or did you have other investment partners? HP: We have pretty much been the same consistent group of people along the way. And there are some lessons. That is a different discussion.
SM: Who are these people? HP: These are sort of our own friendly network of wealthy Norwegian people. We really don’t have any institutions; it is private individuals that have been willing to stick together come hell or high water. Each time we had an issue we stuck our heads together and wrote the checks from our grocery. We kept on going. So it’s just the same people.
SM: Very interesting because you sustained from 1993-2007. That’s a long time and 12 million dollars is a substantial amount of money for individual private investors to commit to. It is a remarkable achievement HP. And sounds like it wasn’t at all an easy ride! HP: Thank you.
SM: So can we go into some of the discussions as to how you built this company? In terms of building the organization, you had a technical founder who had the science of this project, yeah? HP: He was an artist. It is always difficult for an artist to take things to an industrial scale. He was into hand-crafting every PX. We needed a production system that scales. We managed that transition.
The key here is when you do this at any given time, you should always try to hire the best people you can possibly afford at the time, because it is all about the people and it all starts at the top. Good people attract good people and you need a certain class of people to make the company and the organization succeed.
So I think a lot of the lessons are in there. You have the dimension of us as sort of the equivalent of the Three Musketeers as investors here. We have been aligned as owners all along. I think that is also another lesson to learn. Too many people crack under the stress. I said, in venture you must thrive on bad news. If you don’t thrive on bad news, move over; because, every day represents something uncharted and new, where you sort of sit down and say, “How do we deal with this?”
And you make mistakes every single day too. As soon as you realize you made those mistakes you go back and you fix them.
At this point we are on our third management team, and I am a lot more involved in operational management.