“Fastpitch” with Robert Wallace, EVP, Venture Services, Tallwave

Written by on April 8, 2013 in Advisors, Blog, Investors - No comments

Up to bat:  Robert Wallace, EVP, Venture Services, Tallwave


We’re talking with Robert Wallace, Executive Vice President of Venture Services of Tallwave. A brand spanking-new start-up in the valley that provides commercialization services to young start-up companies, Robert’s been with Tallwave since its infancy.  He’s the company’s first non-founding partner.  Entrepreneurs are busy people – so we’re sitting down for a “fastpitch” session of questions and answers – see what wisdom you can glean from this heavy hitter.

Q:  What’s the story behind the name of your business?
A: We truly wanted to exemplify the notion of riding the business industry “waves” as tall and as large as you can for your own personal business. We combined that with an idea from one of our founding partners, Dan Boberg, from a company he was with back company back in the dot-com days.

Q.  Why is Phoenix an ideal market for launching a start-up?
A. Great talent, many innovative thinkers, a robust university system, and a lower cost of doing business than larger technology hubs.


Q.  What was the impetus behind embracing entrepreneurship?  Did you always know that was your path – or did circumstances force your hand?
A: I knew it was my path … I’ve always been involved with start-ups.   I came from a family of entrepreneurs, with examples from my mother and grandfather.  At Tallwave, we fundamentally believe that innovation and economic growth come from entrepreneurs, and we want to help others become entrepreneurs.


Q.  Many start-ups experience failures before success – or at least they make some major mistakes.  Can you share a moment where you learned from a setback?
A. You are going to make mistakes  – and that’s a philosophy we embrace.  Our approach to that philosophy is to figure out those points quickly with as little financial detriment as possible.  Use those mistakes as opportunities to pivot your business model to improve.  One thing we see a lot – companies prematurely building and marketing a product without properly understanding the true needs of the user of their product.


Q.  Tell us about your customers.  What problems can you solve for them?  What’s been the best way to get in front of them so far?
A. Our customers range from someone with just an idea for a business, all the way to the young start-up companies that are already running even with a few million dollars under their belt.  We fill gaps at a very fundamental level. Many entrepreneurs and small businesses may not know what features to add to their products or how to do it, may need help taking products to market, or may need help with financial modeling.
The best way to get in front of them: NETWORKING – working our own personal networks and getting into the marketplace. Our best clients have come from personal networking. It’s all about personal relationships and building those relationships.


Q.  Describe your ideal customer.
A. Our ideal customer is an early stage technology startup with some degree of “angel” or seed funding and looking for help marketing and validating their product, or driving their company to a fully commercial state.


Q.  What’s the key difference between Tallwave and its competitors?
A. Tallwave is focused on the commercialization of businesses. Companies we are typically compared to focus on shared workspace, mentorship, and product prototyping, which are all very valuable. In addition to these things, Tallwave helps these companies drive to business outcomes. We are building companies, not simply start-ups


Q.  From what other business leaders/collaborators/authors have you drawn inspiration, and why?
A. I’ve been very fortunate and had great mentors at every single stop during my career. My bosses have not only been great leaders and mentors but great role models as well. I tend not to read all of the popular business books because I prefer to read economic books.  My grandfather is my inspiration. He started a candy company during the Great Depression and built it into a 30-million dollar business. I learned the true work ethic of how to live being an entrepreneur.


Q.  Where are your offices located?  Why did you choose that location?
A. We’re on the southeast corner of Lincoln and Scottsdale, just to the right of the Hilton – 6263 N. Scottsdale Road.  We moved over there because it was centrally located.


Q.  How do you strike balance in your life when launching a start-up?
A. Not easy. You have to time block, and time shift. That might mean late nights and weekends, but it is also the only way to find time for other important aspects of your life.


Q.  Lastly  – What’s the first thing you do when you get to work each day?
A. Get coffee. Check email.

To connect with Tallwave online, please visit:
Twitter: @Tallwave

About the Author

Scott Kelly is a 20 year veteran in marketing, sales, training and publicity. He has trained over 1,000 sales people, generated millions of dollars in sales and has taught marketing at the university level in the United States and Europe. As founder and CEO of Black Dog Promotions, Kelly has garnered national media coverage and established large fan bases for many in the sports, entertainment and business communities.

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