“5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO of Tealbook,” With Stephany Lapierre

Surround yourself with cheerleaders that believe in you and your vision. Keep them close and lean on them as much as you can (Hint: This is NOT your spouse!). I am terrible at doing this, but lately I have been blocking time in my calendar for myself. Doing more doesn’t translate to better outcomes. Think […]

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Surround yourself with cheerleaders that believe in you and your vision. Keep them close and lean on them as much as you can (Hint: This is NOT your spouse!). I am terrible at doing this, but lately I have been blocking time in my calendar for myself. Doing more doesn’t translate to better outcomes. Think quality over quantity.

Stephany Lapierre is the Founder and CEO of Tealbook. She has won several awards for her innovative approach to leveraging supplier intelligence and has received repeated recognition as a female tech entrepreneur. After studying the business impact of costly and inefficient gaps between enterprise buyers and suppliers, she launched Tealbook as the largest, most robust and trusted B2B network. Her vision is for tealbook to upgrade the application of supplier information through machine learning, efficiently increasing innovation and value creation for all parties. Prior to Tealbook, Stephany built a successful procurement consulting firm focused on helping Fortune 500 companies improve strategic sourcing efficiencies.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Entrepreneurship is in my DNA. I always knew I would have my own business. I don’t like inefficiencies and I am always looking to solve problems. I started my career working for a startup that scaled fast. I learned a lot about what to do and not do. It led to me spending a couple of years working in larger organizations. While I was there I noticed a lot of inefficiencies that prevented them from being more competitive. I was working in a highly competitive environment and looking for innovation that would give us an advantage, but finding innovation is not easy and finding partners that can help can take a lot of time.

In 2007, I started a consulting firm to help teams find innovative supply partners. This quickly expanded into full service strategic sourcing and procurement consulting. We helped large organizations improve the efficiencies of their procurement function by reducing friction and improving the value chain. We also specialized in educating the executives of hyper growth companies on the importance of building a scalable, empowered and transparent global procurement function early in the company’s life cycle. If procurement is done well, it can bring incredible operational and financial efficiencies that help a company scale fast and grow a sustainable supply chain without waste and unnecessary risk.

I also started to realize that most of the friction between procurement and the business comes from a lack of available supplier data. While companies know a lot about their customers and employees, they know very little about their suppliers. I saw a $20B procurement software industry rapidly growing but no one was focused on reconciling supplier data to make those technology investments effective. I knew that a solution was desperately needed as more procurement teams were pressured to digitize the function. I was a little ahead of the market when I started putting the pieces together but I am glad I did. We are now perfectly positioned to be the trusted source of supplier data that will power this $20B software procurement market.

Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?

I mentor a lot of female tech founders and most follow a similar pattern… I did a lot of the heavy lifting by myself and took on a lot of personal risk to validate the opportunity instead of building an experienced team and fundraising right away. That initial heavy lifting was critical to our success today, but I wouldn’t do it the same way again. It is not sustainable and having an experienced team gives a lot of confidence to investors early on. My way worked, but it was much harder.

What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?

100% resiliency… Believing that we had a real market opportunity and sticking to our vision. Surrounding myself with believers in my vision and thought leaders who could help communicate the vision to the market.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”?

  1. Hire smart people that are as hungry to win as you are.
  2. Follow your instincts. They are usually right.
  3. Make decisions faster… if you think you should make a change, don’t wait.
  4. Don’t talk to investors too early. It is ok to start networking but wait until you have real traction. Sophisticated investors put money behind growth, not to achieve growth.
  5. Don’t undervalue the power of customer success. Getting customers to advocate for your company is the most powerful business development channel there is.

What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Surround yourself with cheerleaders that believe in you and your vision. Keep them close and lean on them as much as you can (Hint: This is NOT your spouse!). I am terrible at doing this, but lately I have been blocking time in my calendar for myself. Doing more doesn’t translate to better outcomes. Think quality over quantity.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

So many people! It would be unfair to single someone out… I have been very fortunate for the many supporters that believed in our vision. They key is to surround yourself with people that have been successful in different areas: investment, finance, operations, sales, scale, etc. They have all supported and taught me so much as well as opened many doors. They all know who they are and I am incredibly thankful for them.

What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?

As a single founder, I was involved in everything. I need to focus on not diving back into the day to day and instead lead through vision. It was a difficult transition and I am working at maintaining it every day. Personally, I spent two weeks in the Bahamas with my family last summer. I was able to check out for the first time in four years. It was transformative! It reminded me of the importance of spending time away from work and showed me how quickly my kids are growing up. I came back more strategic, re-energized and more balanced. I knew taking personal time was important but didn’t believe I was able to take that time away from the business. When I came back, the business was still there and the team had made amazing progress. It’s important to let go on so many levels.

What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?

I want to inspire and help other entrepreneurs who have made the same commitment to building a successful company. I think we can all do more to surround other founders with the support and network needed to be successful and skip a few hard lessons. It should go well beyond capital, and good investors understand this.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!

Like most parents, I am concerned about the world my children will grow up in… Teaching our kids to make good decisions about the world they live in and how to influence change is critical. We talk a lot and schools are teaching them the basics, but their voices can be incredibly powerful if they are given the tools and a chance. A movement that enables our kids to speak for themselves and vote for their future would be powerful.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I am very active in all things procurement and digital transformation on LinkedIn. If you want to know me more personally, I am on Instagram as well slapierre77.

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