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Fireside chat with Louise Wannier, Advisory to CEO/founder of GoParrot

Who is Louise Wannier?

An experienced Entrepreneur, Corporate Director and CEO, Ms. Wannier has chaired Boards of Directors and as CEO built companies in four different industries: Education Technology, Consumer Electronics, Information Management Software and Fashion/eCommerce. As Board chairman, she led capital raises, recruited board members and established advisory boards including bringing on independent non-financial board members to lend strategic industry experience.

For each organization she has led the Strategic Market Development, Product innovation, Formation of key partnerships and strategic alliances and raised over $50 million in combined venture capital-equity financing. A collaborative leader, Ms. Wannier founded CEO Circle, a confidential forum for early-stage technology CEO’s modeled after ten years in Vistage, an organization of continued professional development for CEO’s internationally.

In 2006, Ms. Wannier founded MyShape, the first Online Personal Shopping platform. Growing to over 800K members, and partnered with over 200 fashion brands, MyShape significantly improved online conversion through personalizing the fashion shopping experience. Prior, Ms. Wannier founded Enfish, Desktop and Enterprise software installed in over 2000 companies which she merged with an enterprise portal company, establishing an enterprise sales channel across diverse industry sectors.

Co-founder of Gemstar (makers of VCR Plus+ which established over 100M customers worldwide within five years, an IPO at $500M valuation, subsequently rising to market capitalization of $20B), her strategic market development skills succeeded in navigating a complex “chicken and egg” go-to-market challenge, establishing strategic alliances with publishers, retailers, consumer electronics, distribution channels and media companies, rolling out VCR Plus+ to the US in one year, Europe in the subsequent 18 months.

Tell us more about your role in GoParrot?

GoParrot was one of my advisory clients – the company is now a growth stage company. I was advisory to the founder/CEO from its inception.
For me, being an entrepreneur is not a job – it is a passion – everything that I participate in and pursue stems from some inner vision or interest. I am very fortunate that I had significant early success. Since age 40 when Gemstar went public – I have had the freedom to pursue my own interests and to develop them.

What is the most difficult part of your job? But the most rewarding one?

There are many other professional paths I could have chosen to pursue  – but I feel that I am each year pursuing the ones that matter most to me at that time.

What’s your key strategy for the development of your company?

Strategy is a broad topic.  Generally I look at the best way to maximize the opportunity in the market in the context of the strategic environment and where the most acute realizable market need lies.

What do you think about the next period of time, keeping in mind the pandemic and the new business climate? How will your industry be affected?

The pandemic has reduced some industries and accelerated others.  In the online world, the pandemic has accelerated a tremendous amount of market expansions and consumer demand. It has provided significant growth opportunities for those paying attention to the subtle and not-so subtle shifts in consumer behavior and demand and the adjustments in global marketplaces. The global supply of capital is increasing each year and therefore there is an expansion of opportunities. The most important question taught and clearly synthesized by my mentor, Renn Zaphiropoulos, is to ask – what is your competitive edge? When you consider the market demand, the need, and the product or service you are offering, what is the nature of your advantage? Focusing on the minimum viable product or service that is complete (integrates and is easily adopted by/for) your customer to reach breakeven and understand the cost of customer acquisition and your repeatable, scalable business model, is the most important determination for an early stage company.

Many companies die from communicating before delivering, unclear delivery, or as I have learned, being too early to market. It is important to understand who is the decision maker, how to reach them, to identify prospective strategic partners who address the same target customers with non-competitive offerings and therefore could offer efficiencies for your distribution and building market awareness?

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

For the next number of years, these markets will afford significant opportunities: The internet, AI, miniaturization of consumer electronics and memory – Moore’s law, and in the future, Quantum computing and bio/medical technology and engineering. Climate change and the need for sustainability and conservation of global resources. There is also in my opinion needs in social markets that will be clear in the next ten years – but those markets have not yet opened.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

I rarely read at night – I tend to use that time for meditation and writing and personal reflection.  I appreciate a diverse range of books including nonfiction and fiction.  Examples that come to mind include: TURNING THE MIND INTO AN ALLY by Sakyong Mipham which “explains meditation as a process of “peaceful abiding,” one that provides a means of achieving lasting rather than transitory internal peace and happiness”., Sailing Home by Norman Fischer which “breathes fresh air into a classic we thought we knew, revealing its profound guidance for the modern seeker. Dividing the book into three parts—“Setting Forth,” “Disaster,” and “Return”—Fischer charts the course of Odysseus’s familiar wanderings”., The tipping point by Malcolm Gladwell, The idea virus by Seth Godin, The 7 habits of effective people by Steven Covey, Built to last by James Collins , Maverick by Ricardo Semler, How to Sit by Thich nhat Hahn, The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, The Flame by Leonard Cohen, Game-changing Advisory boards by Bill Hawfield, and Entrepreneurial Wisdom by Renn Zaphiropoulos.  

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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