3/28/2003 - Dan O'Dowd, founder and CEO of Green Hills Software, Inc. throughout its 21-year history, delivered the keynote address at the MIT Enterprise Forum's March meeting at Westlake Village, CA this week. O'Dowd described to members and invited guests his approach to building a successful company in the high-technology sector.
"Entrepreneurs should think long term when building their businesses," said O'Dowd. "That doesn't mean planning for a long time before becoming profitable, it means getting profitable as soon as possible and remaining profitable by not attempting to grow faster than cash flow and debt can finance."
Central Coast MIT Enterprise Forum chairman, John Laco, said, "We were delighted that Dan accepted our invitation to describe how he built Green Hills Software from a startup into a tremendously successful company. Dan's passionate presentation of his professional and personal journey as an entrepreneur was educational, as well as inspirational, to our Forum members and guests. We look forward to the participation of Dan and Green Hills Software in future Forum events."
O'Dowd's speech promoted the idea of thinking "long term" when building a company rather than aiming at a quick surge to a short-term goal. While traditional VC goals call for a quick exit in 3-5 years, O'Dowd said that most companies attempting this approach actually fail and achieve nothing for themselves or their investors.
O'Dowd observed that the phenomenon of 1998-2000, when it was relatively easy to raise investment capital and go public without ever making a profit, was an aberration, and is not expected to recur for a long time. Today, as had been the case prior to 1998 profitability is key to success, and steady growth consumes less cash than trying to double in size every year. "A 40 percent average annual growth rate produces a 1000x growth over 20 years," observes O'Dowd. "That makes an initial $100,000 investment worth around $100,000,000."
Citing Green Hills Software's experience with its many Fortune 100 customers, O'Dowd said that he believes we have seen the end of the recession in high technology and a return to a growth economy comparable to what we saw in 1993-1997, not the unusual environment of 1998-2000. "In the last six months, we've seen a significant change in the buying habits of our Fortune 100 customers, signaling an end to the drought of the previous 12 months," added O'Dowd. Based on this turnaround in the economy, O'Dowd said he anticipates a Green Hills Software IPO in the 2004 timeframe.
O'Dowd strongly advocates that company owners secure capital through debt - the least expensive form of cash, especially now. Profitable companies accumulate assets, whether cash, equipment, buildings, or the like. By borrowing against these assets, while not surrendering any equity, companies can raise capital for growth without losing ownership.
O'Dowd concluded, "Traditional VC financing ends up costing the founder a high percentage of his company, while borrowing against a profitable operation costs little or no equity at all."
About Green Hills Software, Inc.
Founded in 1982, Green Hills Software Inc. is the technology leader for real-time operating systems and software development tools for 32- and 64-bit embedded systems. Our royalty-free INTEGRITY® RTOS, compilers, MULTI® and AdaMULTI Integrated Development Environments and Green Hills ProbeTM, offer a complete development solution that addresses both deeply embedded and maximum reliability applications.
Green Hills Software is headquartered in Santa Barbara, CA, with European headquarters in the United Kingdom. For more information on Green Hills Software products, call 805-965-6044, email email@example.com.
Green Hills Software, the Green Hills logo, MULTI and INTEGRITY are registered trademarks. The Green Hills Probe, Slingshot, EventAnalyzer, ResourceAnalyzer, ISIM, QuickStart, Integrate, are trademarks of Green Hills Software Inc.
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