EOC: The JAR Group — Starting a Startup

November 1st, 2011.

Hide Harashima & AJ Lawrence with Pierre-Tony Exuma (MPA Club)

The 14th floor of  VC saw Hide Harashima and AJ Lawrence come to campus to speak about their experience on the front lines of the start-up world.  The MPA club and the Zicklin Media & Entertainment Club hosted the event that was organized by the Executives on Campus (EOC) Job$mart project.

Hide Harashima is the CTO of the JAR  Group. His many roles at the JAR Group include  transforming data into business insights that improve key metrics such as customer responsiveness and sales pipeline efficiency. And certainly not least of all — focusing on operating profit.

A J Lawrence is the founder of the JAR group.  He started the group with several start-ups (and some failures) under his belt.  The first couple of years had all the horrors of start- ups, but couldn’t give up. Several qualities led him to this point in his career — primarily being stubborn and having a deep willingness to learn.  In the end he stuck to what he loved doing.

The JAR Group is a digital workshop focusing on “small-e” entrepreneurs.   They also took on an ambidextrous side lately, in that they have a skunks works that focuses on brand-new technology.

Questions from the audience:

How do you harness the passion to focus on one thing and not get distracted? AJ: So much in my late 20s and 30s failed and blew up in my face.  So when things came up later, I had a lot of “mistakes” under my belt. You have to have confidence in yourself.  Things will fail, but that may be good for the long run.

What classes to you recommend?  AJ: Accounting, the basics.  That was the core issue in my previous setup.

What made you [Hide] take this opportunity over other roles?   Hide: Wanted to get back in to the start-up world, rather than an being at an existing company.  My life was too corporate. I want to be on the front lines with customers and technology.  The culture at the JAR group ultimately drew me to partnering with AJ.

Does a start-up get easier after your other ones?  AJ: Bootstrapped every start-up.  This time around the JAR group will go after VC funding for the new tool.  It doesn’t get easier.  It gets different.  Most importantly, your dreams change.  Some things get easier, especially the panic.

Can you be an entrepreneur and not be a techy?  Hide: Certainly no.  There are a lot of examples of a non-technical founder.  It comes down to your core competence.

How do you build/keep your resilience?  AJ: Always try to learn from your mistakes and treat every situation like a learning experience.  Loving what you do makes resilience easy; even when it goes wrong or not the way you expected.  When you love it, it’s easy to get back on after you’ve been thrown off.

Many thanks to Hide and AJ for coming to campus and speaking about their experiences.  As always, J McLoughlin and others who made this possible have our appreciation.  Thank you.


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