Robert Lowe is the co-founder and CEO of Wellspring Worldwide. Wellspring provides software systems to companies and universities to find and manage technologies, intellectual property and product development partners. Lowe started a few companies in his career, founded two startup incubator programs and previously was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, where he taught entrepreneurship, corporate strategy and innovation management.
Lowe holds a Master of Science degree and a Doctorate of Philosophy in business and public policy from the University of California at Berkeley,and an undergraduate degree in finance, computer systems and economics from the University of Michigan.
(Photo courtesy of Wellspring Worldwide)
What are the scope and responsibilities of your current role?
As CEO, I maintain full responsibility for the company’s strategy and market goals. In practice, that means that I focus on recruiting, fostering, coaching and encouraging my staff, as well as Wellspring’s business partners, to perform their best. A great deal of my time is spent finding alignment between people’s personal goals and aspirations with the company’s organizational objectives. Of course, Wellspring is a rapidly growing company in the technology world, so I do remain actively involved in sales, marketing, finance and new product development to support the managers and teams in those critical functional areas.
Do you feel your education prepared you for your current role?
My education in finance and economics certainly was valuable for my development as an entrepreneur and CEO. It is helpful to have an understanding of company strategy, marketing and finance, but it isn’t necessary. To be a successful entrepreneur, it is more important to be a passionate life-long learner. The process of exploring, understanding and even mastering a subject, regardless of what the topic is, builds the critical mental muscles needed to learn about emerging opportunities, question market assumptions and recruit key people and resources. That’s what an entrepreneur does. Hence, the specific topic in your education is less relevant. The passionate pursuit of an education is the key to developing your career into something you will love. Most of my friends and colleagues who have started tech companies did not have a formal education in business or economics, but they’re passionate life-long learners.
Do you have any advice for people who desire to pursue a similar career?
I don’t believe anyone successfully chooses to be an entrepreneur. I certainly didn’t start out my career or education expecting to launch companies for a living. Instead, an entrepreneurial opportunity chooses the person. That said, the best entrepreneurs I know are clever zealots. They care deeply, often obsessively, about a cause and are bothered with the existing solutions. I found this to be true in software, robotics and other technology fields I’ve worked in. Entrepreneurs commit their full attention and focus to the cause and as a result, perceive both existing market realities, and what can and will happen on the horizon. Then, it just feels like the obvious next step is to bring together the resources to create a company. And then you’re off and running.
This article was written by Michelle Guilbeau for Small Business Pulse