“Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.“
It was love at first sight for Gordon Daugherty. He remembers the day like yesterday. It was 1980, in a small Texas highschool when the first PC computer appeared in his sophomore math class. It was new. It was forward thinking. It was the future. It was Gordon’s future. At that moment, Gordon fell in love with computers. He knew then and there that his career would certainly have something to do with computers, with high-tech. That was crystal clear.
Also clear was the reality that attending a large college was not part of Gordon’s plan. Baylor’s relatively smaller student body, as compared to Texas A&M and the University of Texas, was a plus. And when the Baylor Computer Science Program started gaining national recognition, that all but sealed the deal for this small-town boy with big-time dreams. Gordon would become a Baylor Bear.
While at Baylor, Gordon spent two years interning at an IBM sales office in Waco. That internship led to a post-graduation enterprise sales representative position at the IBM regional sales office in Corpus Christi. After a ten-year career with IBM, Gordon shifted directions with a position at Compaq Computer Corporation’s headquarters in Houston. While Compaq was still a large company, it was considerably smaller than IBM. Gordon relished in his newfound autonomy and increased visibility into varying parts of the company.
Following his time at Compaq, Gordon joined the number two market share leader in the videoconferencing industry. The fast pace and the ability to “move the needle” with this significantly smaller company lit a fire within Gordon. A fire that would continue to draw Gordon to smaller and earlier stage companies.
In 2009, serial entrepreneur Josh Baer teamed up with a group of fellow entrepreneurs and created a summer bootcamp style startup accelerator in Austin. After three successful runs with the bootcamp, Josh decided to open the first high-tech coworking space in downtown Austin. Gordon joined Josh on this new entrepreneurial vision.
With a love for tech and a fire for startup entrepreneurship, this was the perfect opportunity for Gordon. Soon the entrepreneurs were delivering on their initial mantra of being the center of gravity for entrepreneurs in Austin. The high-tech and startup scene that was rampant in Austin in 2012 and 2013 played to their advantage as they introduced Capital Factory to the mix.
As Josh and Gordon expanded to Dallas, the mantra shifted to becoming the center of gravity for entrepreneurs in Texas. All the while, they were holding tight to their mission to help founders find talent, investors, customers and advisors. Gordon explains, “Everything we do has the purposeful intent of helping founders start and grow great companies.”
While there is an intentional across-Texas element to the mantra, beyond that there really isn’t even a five-year plan for Capital Factory. And according to Gordon, that has a huge impact in what keeps the company vibrant and special. Capital Factory continues to operate much like a startup, in that there’s always a plan, but there’s also always a go-with-the-flow alternative as new and unexpected opportunities pop up.
When the world took a sucker punch to the belly with Covid-19, Capital Factory was impacted as every other business. There was an immediate focus on a pivot or transition to online interactions as a replacement to in-person. The emphasis was how to deliver value online for a business model that focuses on in-person interactions and serendipitous collisions in relation to the value proposition. With a little ingenuity and creativity, the team was able to create new and better ways to organize and operate.
Gordon often shares advice and best practices via a blog at ShockwaveInnovations.com. However, when asked to share a nugget of wisdom to aspiring business owners, he stressed the importance of finding the perfect balance of what one is really good at doing and what one really enjoys doing. Gordon is a firm believer that starting a business is a great way to figure out both at the same time. After all, some things you simply cannot learn from a textbook. You have to learn from doing.
And Gordon continues doing. He continues to foster a community where hungry, driven and passionate entrepreneurs learn from each other, celebrate together and even cry on each other’s shoulder. A community where entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and enterprises facilitate serendipity. A community that celebrates the unexpected opportunity with great abandon. As Gordon puts it, “The serendipitous encounter with a mentor, investor or prospective customer at Capital Factory could be the catalyst for extreme luck.” He lives by the well-known mantra, “Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Unexpected opportunities are always a reason to celebrate! #SicEm
For more information on Baylor Entrepreneurship, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/entrepreneurship/.