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Angel Invest Boston

100 EpisodesProduced by Sal DaherWebsite

Boston exports ideas and imports money. The city's unique concentration of academic talent and entrepreneurial culture is renowned for creating powerful new technologies and companies. These ideas and companies attract smart money from around the globe. This podcast surveys the companies that ventur… read more

46:04

Larry Sullivan, "Priest, Harvard Prof & Founder"

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A Renaissance man still lives in our times. He’s been a priest, a Harvard prof, a non-profit exec and he’s now a founder.  The startup Larry Sullivan helped found has built a platform on which C-level executives implement strategic initiatives. The proof of the pudding is that Chiefofstaff.com’s platform has been adopted by some of the biggest names including Deloitte.

Larry is a charming guest. His vast knowledge and dry humor made for a really fun podcast!

Highlights include:

  • Larry speaks nine languages, plays rock on a faculty band and is a devoted husband, father and grandfather.
  • com is a B-to-B SaaS platform to help C-level execs implement strategic plans. I was surprised to discover that poor implementation of strategic plans is a top worry for CEOs of large enterprises.
  • Larry was a beta tester for the platform when he was CEO of a large foundation. The results were so impressive that Larry joined founder Bob Epner at the startup.
  • Platform gives managers with strategic responsibility actionable items every day. The platform ties in to the enterprise’s management software.
  • There are no comparable platforms that compete with Chiefofstaff.com. McKinsey sees a gap in this space.
  • Harvard Business Review study found that failure to deliver on strategic plans was the top worry for CEOs.
  • Competition is from software designed for other uses. Chiefofstaff.com is the only software custom-designed for the C-suite.
  • Initially thought about selling direct to large enterprises then realized that it was far more effective to go through partnership channels such as major consulting firms like Deloitte. Due diligence with Deloitte was a day at the dentist for a whole year.
  • Learned that the business proposition for their partners was to use the platform to present the strategic plans to their clients. Chiefofstaff.com helps the partner get the engagement and makes it easier to deliver the strategic plan.
  • Hard behind Deloitte are other major consulting firms. Finally reaching the end of the long dales cycle.
  • Larry has raised money across a broad range of activities, his advice to fundraisers is to build a rapport with the investor so that she or he understands what drives you and your company.
  • People who have suffered the problems addressed by the platform tend to be the most open to investing in the company.
  • Sal, given his decades of experience in small companies, did not initially see the need for Chiefofstaff.com. The Harvard Business Review article was an eye-opener.
  • The company developed a formal process to channel the advice of the senior executives who invested because they understood the pain point being addressed by Chiefofstaff.com.
  • The Harvard Business Review article, based on a very robust study (8,000 senior leaders tracked for 8 years), also found that executives had little confidence in information provided across functional units (less than 9%) versus information provided directly within the business silo (80% reliable). Chiefofstaff.com was designed to address this disparity.
  • Larry was drawn into the priesthood by the prospect of working in war-torn areas of the globe. Worked as priest for 16 years.
  • Larry got “heart disease” while at the University of Chicago doing a PhD in comparative religions; he met and married a doctoral student in anthropology. Created their own “kin unit”.
  • Larry left an endowed professorship at Harvard to create a program in world religions at Notre Dame. A unique opportunity for a Roman Catholic. Had to win the hearts of the world’s largest university faculty of theology.
  • Later he was invited to head up the Fetzer Institute, a large non-profit with activities in 40 countries.
  • Picked up Latin, Ancient Greek, French and German at BC High.
  • Knowing nine languages opens up unexpected possibilities of connecting with people and ideas.
  • In summation Larry expressed astonishment at the chain of events that had to have occurred for us to be sitting here able to contemplate the Big Bang that occurred 14 billion years ago. It leads him to be grateful and appreciative of the similarities and differences of people around him. Larry ties this to the work of Chiefofstaff.com.
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