GameChanger CEO Larry Popelka was featured in this week’s San Francisco Business Times as a leading San Francisco area
entrepreneur. Here are highlights:
CEO and Founder, GameChanger
What it does: Innovation consulting for consumer products companies to help them build and test new ideas.
2012 estimated revenue: $4.4 million.
Employees: Approximately 30.
Source of startup capital: Self-funded.
Background: Before working at GameChanger, he was vice president of marketing at Clorox in Oakland. He’s been in consumer products marketing for over 20 years. He received an M.B.A. from University of Chicago and an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University.
Web site: gamechanger.net
How’s business: We’ve been growing at a rate of about 50 percent per year. We’re beginning 2013 with a good start.
What’s going to change at your company: We’re going to add another 10-15 people. We’re going to expand if we’re able to hit our financial growth target.
Reason for starting business: What I was doing at Clorox was running a corporation innovation group, and I realized it was impossible to do good-quality innovation. We were trying to outsource projects to entrepreneurs. We did that for several years, and some were successful, some were not. With GameChanger, it’s creating services for big companies to come and use.
Most difficult part of decision: Deciding what business we were in. At first we thought we might be investing in startups and helping them build new products. It required trial and error.
Biggest business strength: Flexibility.
Biggest business weakness: Sometimes we fall too much in love with the products we’re working on. If we work on a product, we fall in love with it, and then the company decides not to go with it, it’s hard.
Biggest risk: Starting GameChanger. I had a cushy job at Clorox. I could’ve done that and retired.
Biggest mistake: We’ve changed our business model three or four times. We had some lean years because we didn’t have a good business model. We’ve had some consulting engagements where we’ve messed up and didn’t get them executed the right way, but we’ve gone back and been able to recover from them.
Biggest worry: That we’re going to let somebody down. There’s a lot of pressure.
Favorite task: Helping big companies operate like entrepreneurs.
Least favorite task: Dealing with all the bureaucracy, paperwork and new laws or new regulations that make it hard for small businesses.
Five-year plan: In five to 10 years, we expect to be 10 times the size.
Inducement to sell: If I knew there was a strategic investor or buyer to help the company be more successful.
First choice for new career or venture: I’d be an entrepreneur.
Most-admired entrepreneur: The group of people that started the venture capital industry in the 1960s from the documentary “Something Ventured.”
Favorite pastime: Golden State Warriors fan.
Favorite book: Can it be my own? “The GameChanger Manifesto.”
Favorite film: “Moneyball.”
Favorite restaurant: Sushi House in Alameda.
Favorite music: I’m a big Bruce Springsteen fan.
Car: I bought one of the first Chevy Volts.
Click here to read full profile: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/print-edition/2013/01/25/larry-popelka.html