Russ: Hi I’m Russ Capper and this is HXTV, championing Houston’s innovators and entrepreneurs. Our topic today is innovation and the HX Growth Summit. My guest is Larry Shaffer, Senior Vice President of Marketing with Insperity. Larry welcome to the show.
Larry: Russ it’s great to be here.
Russ: You bet. So I mentioned innovation – my goodness your company shows up on anything and everything to do with innovation. What motivates that interest these days in innovation for Insperity?
Larry: It really begins with our mission which is to help businesses succeed so communities can prosper. So you can see that we have a clear connection about investing in companies and investing in innovation and doing what we can to expedite the success of these businesses and the trickledown effect of improving our communities where we live and work is really what our goal is.
Russ: Your activity in Houston in the innovation ecosystem is very significant. Give us an overview of what Insperity is doing in this space.
Larry: It goes back several years ago when we became connected with Blair Garrou at the Mercury Fund. He became a client and it was an interesting relationship, he almost became a corporate mentor to us on how to better reach the innovation community here in Houston and throughout the middle of the United States. And what emerged from there is opportunities with Houston Exponential where we by faith took on the responsibility to provide the runway capital to get HX off the ground and get it going.
We also have become the anchor investor for the HX fund to fund and so we are putting our money where our mouth is and are investing here. And then beyond that sponsorships and partnerships with Station Houston, with the Cannon, with TMCX as well as close relationships with the University of Houston as well as the Rice Alliance.
Russ: And as you know I’ve interacted with Insperity several times as a client company all the way through, but the focus on early stage and on startups has just really been emphasized, has it not, in the last 3 or 4 years.
Larry: It really has. You could say – well we’ve been around 32 years, so going back that far in the sense we built the company on what us old timers might say is mom and pop businesses; legacy businesses, lifestyle businesses as we might know it. But we have really emerged in the last 5 years in regards to having a very focused business model for emerging innovation companies. And like I said, it just all makes sense in the world.
Russ: Absolutely and I’ve participated in that space for a long time so you guys pop up all the time – as the good guys for sure. But we’re here also to talk about the HX Growth Summit coming up in October, of which you guys have taken the title sponsorship position. It’s kind of interesting because it’s focused on this category of digital sales and marketing and I like to focus on the sales aspect because that’s my background and my goodness sales has changed over the years. Would you agree with that?
Larry: It has absolutely. Here again, the foundational elements of sales are still there but the way in which we go about it and the level of expertise that’s needed in the digital world is significant; significant changes.
Russ: From my perspective I kind of knew that was happening but I had no idea there was as much expertise available as there is going to be at the HX Growth Summit with a lineup of keynote speakers that is extremely impressive. Share with us first the details; what’s the date and location of the summit?
Larry: It’s going to be on October 10th and it’s going to be at the University of Houston. It’s going to begin at 9:00am and go right through until 5:00pm with a reception that follows and for more information you can go to http://HoustonExponential.org/HXGrowth18.
Russ: So not only are you guys the title sponsor, but you’re supplying the closing keynote?
Larry: That’s right, our Chairman and CEO Paul Sarvadi is going to be the keynote speaker. Paul was our Founder 32 years ago and has lead our company from a start up with two guys and a telephone to where we are currently. Looks like we’re going to hit about $4 billion in revenue this year and as I mentioned we have clients in all 50 states.
And what’s significant about having Paul as the speaker is for all the reasons I just shared – the accomplishments that he’s done. He’s accomplished taking a company through all of the different cycles – and leading it to the success of where we’re at right now. But he’s really a sales guy at his heart. He was our first sales person in the first year and he’ll tell you the story about how he sold 12 accounts in that first year and evaluated and learned and then hired sales people to duplicate what he had accomplished. The rest as they say is history.
Russ: He is so impressive. I did have the opportunity to interview him like 10 years ago and at the time I was making a real big deal that there aren’t too many guys that were Founders and are still CEOs here 20 years in. Well now we’re further down the path, 32 years – I mean we’re talking about the only ones that come to mind for me are Fred Smith at FedEx and Jeff Bezos at Amazon; there’s not too many left. And he still seems to be enjoying his job.
Larry: He is absolutely energized and excited and he has a vision for the future.
Russ: Fantastic. Well I’m looking forward to hearing what he has to say at the Growth Summit and seeing you there as well.
Larry: That sounds great, looking forward to it.
Russ: You bet. And that wraps up my discussion with Larry Shaffer, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Insperity. And this is HXTV.
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