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Investing in People, Not Ideas: Todd McWhirter Shares 20 Years of Investing Insights from the Startup Community

Every member of our sophisticated community at Thrive is unique and they all bring value to the innovative, lively, warm and welcoming work place that we have developed. The road to success is different for every member and investor Todd McWhirter shares how he got started in the startup industry, offering advice for others to succeed and tips for companies just getting started.

Todd has been investing in and bringing value to startup companies for 20 years now, though he got started in the industry by accident.

Before becoming a part of the Thrive community, Todd was the manager of a sales team at Southwestern Company and managed a team of 120 people. When you have that many people in your organization, there will inevitably be forward-thinking, innovative people with the entrepreneurial spirit and Todd’s team was no exception.

One of Todd’s employees left to go start a business and he eventually came back to Todd for advice and money. Todd knew this former employee was going to be successful, because he knew the employee and how he operated, and he wanted to invest in his company.

The first startup that Todd invested in was called Media Store — a 1-800 number for selling software and computer products. The second company that Todd invested in was a spin-off product from Media Store. Others would leave Southwestern to start their own companies and would then consult Todd after the fact for ideas, cash, resources and more.

“You don’t invest in ideas, you invest in people,” he said. “Of course the idea is important, but the entrepreneur who steers the ship matters even more.”

Some of the companies Todd invested in did well, while some failed. Some really good ideas failed miserably while other mediocre ideas did really well. When he decided to keep investing — success or failure — it unintentionally became his career.

Through the years, Todd has championed the approach of  investing in hard-working entrepreneurs, not ideas. As such, stumbling upon the opportunity to invest in Thrive Workplace was both exciting and fortunate.

“Here is a company whose mission statement is to create an environment that helps young people and entrepreneurs — to create an environment to help driven people succeed,” continued Todd.

Todd’s wealth of experience affords him with a number of valuable insights to share with the Thrive community and companies just getting started:

  1. It is always harder than you think and it always takes longer than expected to succeed but, if you are passionate and you want it bad enough, it is more exciting than you think.
  2. Everything is magnified in the startup world — the valleys are lower and the peaks are higher. It is a magnified life experience.
  3. Encourage people who are passionate to hang on to that passion and jump in knowing that it is going to be a wild, wild ride. That’s why having a place like Thrive to anchor yourself — an organized, clean, peaceful environment — is necessary. Because starting or running a company is inevitably chaotic and you need a peaceful atmosphere around you.

At Thrive, the idea is to create an ecosystem with the resources and environment necessary to help entrepreneurs and small businesses focus on growth. If you have any questions on growing your business, connect with Todd on LinkedIn!

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