By Anne Servidad, Altitude Accelerator Communications Intern
John A. Macdonald’s expertise in the software and technology industry spans across medium sized businesses and large enterprises, from Navision Software to Microsoft and other firms in between. At the time he left Microsoft, he was a part-time Volunteer Advisor at the Altitude Accelerator. With his industry expertise, he joined the team full time as an Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR) in the ICT and Digital Media space.
As an Entrepreneur-In-Residence, his role was to coach entrepreneurs through one-on-one consultations to apply his knowledge and experience in the industry and give direction. On a weekly basis, John advised his clients on go-to-market strategy, business and revenue models. After three years of working with the Altitude Accelerator and interacting with hundreds of businesses and entrepreneurs, John is eager to venture back into the industry with his new undertaking at ExpandIT.
It was a pleasure to sit down and chat with John Macdonald to better understand his role as an EIR and the impact that the Altitude Accelerator has on its clients. Macdonald gives us a glimpse into the mindset of a mentor and expresses his future plans at ExpandIT:
Q: In the three years you’ve spent as an EIR, what have you learned at RIC?
“You get an incredible amount of context. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of different business models: a lot of variety. I’m able to see across a lot of different industries and niches within those industries. You don’t get that when you’re working in one business everyday. Many of these business models can be leveraged to cross difference industries through their best practices.”
Q: What is the biggest Impact you’ve had at RIC?
“That’s hard to say… I think it’s more about the little impacts. The truth is, as an Entrepreneur-In-Residence, it’s not just one big thing. It’s often a lot of little things that happen over the course of a one- to two-year relationship. You’re not going to have a massive impact, I think, on a client in a single meeting. It’s the ability to provide pieces of insight or experience that the entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of themselves. Over the course of 18 months, those pieces really add up.”
Q: What will you miss about working at the Altitude Accelerator?
“What you’re seeing when you’re working with the Altitude Accelerator is cutting-edge new ideas, cutting-edge new business models, and cutting-edge thinking and innovation. I’ll miss that kind of variety and exposure when you’re working as an Entrepreneur-In-Residence.”
Q: What advice would you give to Paul Barter, since he will be the one taking on the new role?
“I would say … push the entrepreneurs to move fast because there’s so much innovation going on in North America and globally. Here in Canada, our Altitude Accelerator clients need to move fast through the innovation process. The first thing they need to do is validate the market quickly in order to either disprove or prove their hypothesis. There’s sometimes a tendency to take too long on the validation stage and you waste valuable time and money.”
Q: What are your plans after RIC and why did you choose to jump back into the industry?
“At my heart, I’m a business professional who wants to get back into the industry. One of the clients I was working with outside of RIC is called ExpandIT. They’re a small software business based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The founders are people I knew many years ago when I worked at Navision Software and I’ve been helping them part-time over last few years by strategizing their entry into North America in order to establish themselves in a new market. The business got to a point where they needed someone full time to help them run the business in North America and that’s where I’m headed.”
ExpandIT is a small software business for mid-sized businesses to large enterprises which connects the businesses’ mobile sales representatives to their back-end systems. It allows the people to access the data on-the-go on their smartphones or tablets and connect to the existing software systems. To get more information about Macdonald’s new venture visit www.expandit.com. Altitude Accelerator wishes John Macdonald all the best on his new journey!