Paul Chan's father was an entrepreneur, so it's no surprise that Paul's first job was to work at the family business. At 13 years old, Paul started working at his father's Yum Cha restaurant in Sydney's Chinatown. He quickly learned that work could be hard. More importantly, he decided that he wanted to innovate and redefine traditional ways of working.
In 2000, Paul Chan followed his own passion to start pureprofile. Over the past 10 years, pureprofile has built a reputation as a leading panel provider for a range of online research and media projects. pureprofile members build an extensive profile around their likes and dislikes, their purchasing decisions and demographics. Account Holders are carefully segmented according to their answers, which allow businesses, researchers, academics and marketers to efficiently reach the right people. Today, pureprofile employs 67 people across five offices (Sydney, Mumbai, London, New York, and San Francisco).
Paul cites that pureprofile's three most important strategic assets are:
(1) Culture - pureprofile has an extremely independent and self-managed culture (the buck stops with you). This enables Paul to focus on big picture thinking and not worry about the day-to-day operations.
(2) Platform - the company has built an amazing complex and efficient system to manage millions of profiles and to enable correct payment to the users who respond to the surveys. In addition, this platform also matches the correct users with businesses that need their feedback.
(3) Global Connectivity - through clever technology they've been able to connect all five offices together as they work around-the-clock. They're able to share their culture, knowledge, and updates seamlessly.
To build such a successful business, Paul Chan admits that he's "not afraid to lose." Along that same vein, Paul shares some of his losses and learnings as he's built pureprofile.
*Everything by Design - When starting pureprofile, Paul realized that he possessed a unique opportunity to purposefully design everything. So he took time to think through the culture, the work environment, processes, etc. It's definitely much easier to be proactive at the blueprint phase than after the foundation has been set and the frame has been erected.
*Caution when Hiring Senior People from Large Companies - Paul Chan discovered that oftentimes hiring senior people from big corporations is high risk for a startup. This is because most executives who work at large organizations usually have a full complement of support staff and budget. When they're removed from that environment and dropped into a scrappy startup, they often struggle without the resources their accustomed to leveraging.
*360 Review with Outsider- Paul is quite conscientious when it comes to getting feedback to improve his performance. He invests time into deep discussions with his team on a constant basis. On top of that, he has a mentor that works with him and his senior team on a weekly basis.
*Great by Choice by Jim Collins - Paul Chan reads quite a few books (actually he listens to all of them), and Great by Choice really resonated with him. The key lesson for Paul centered around the triangle of what makes a super star leader (common traits). When Paul first examined the triangle, he thought he was lacking discipline. But as he dug deeper it became clear that this meant more than rigor. Paul concluded that more dedication to redoing / testing / improving constantly so that pureprofile is prepared and able to deliver.
*Data>Information>Knowledge>Wisdom - Paul is maniacal about measuring, monitoring, and diving into data which is a great fit for pureprofile's business model. He shared with me that most companies just have huge amount of data that is never processed into information- much less knowledge or wisdom.
*Love What You Do - This obviously sounds trite, but Paul has witnessed too many entrepreneurs who aren't truly passionate about what they do. This is surprising since one would think that people start companies that they're passionate about. Entrepreneurs pour endless hours into their businesses, so at least spend that energy on something your passionate about or start thinking about how to transition and exit out of that endeavor.
*Conclusion - At an early age, Paul Chan realized what he didn't want to do. But it was only later that he was able to combine his passion for data and creating systems into pureprofile. Paul is definitely very intentional about designing and guiding his business as I saw from their swanky office location and furnishings. It's easy to choose to be great but much more difficult to follow through like Paul Chan has at pureprofile.
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