Take Five is an ongoing RBTC question and answer series where we glean insights from local CEOs and technology leaders in the Roanoke-Blacksburg area.
We recently talked with Kevin Bloomfield, Managing Partner with Bloomfield Partners, LLC, a boutique family investment firm. Kevin also co-founded and previously served as President & CEO of NetVentures Corporation (NVC). His software company built a fast-growing, disruptive cloud-based Operations & Fund Accounting platform for progressive non-profit organizations. Headquartered in Roanoke, VA, the company’s flagship platform was used by over 400 facilities and handled over $2 billion dollars of financial transactions.
RBTC: What are some of the regional resources that have contributed to your success?
Kevin: Easy question. I consistently point to my network of regional advisors which had the greatest impact on my success. My personal network, which included professionals, mentors, experts, and peers, rallied around me, supported me, and shared their experiences with me; their guidance was invaluable to my success. Having started a cloud-based software company in Roanoke, VA without any specific domain expertise was quite a challenge. There is no doubt in my mind that I would not have been nearly as successful without this regional support structure. Everywhere I went people were truly interested in the success of my company. I believe our shared commitment to each other is unique to our region. This willingness to support others enables a greater chance of success for young companies that reside in our region.
RBTC: What makes the Roanoke-Blacksburg region such a good fit for your company?
Kevin: While in many ways we struggled with the same talent recruitment issues that many of our regional peers faced, I believe that we also greatly benefited from the organic talent that is present in the region. There is something different about people who choose to live in the Roanoke/Blacksburg region. While many people chased their dreams to San Francisco, Austin, NY, etc., those that chose to stay in the region often proved to be more valuable team members. In fact, the talent that we recruited from within the region was more valuable to our success than those that we brought in from outside the area. Did we try to recruit nationally? Sure. But nine times out of ten those relationships didn’t prove to be as successful as our team members who were organically committed to the area.
RBTC: If you could give one piece of advice to a fellow entrepreneur, what would it be?
Kevin: While it is true that hard work, guts, instincts, and a little luck are some of the keys to success, I mentor many young entrepreneurs about the value building your personal network. To many of today’s entrepreneurs this simply means building up how their Linked-In connections, or increasing the size of their Facebook or Twitter following. To me, these have little value. Rather, I preach about real, personal, intimate relationships that can provide frank feedback and guidance. Our region includes a plethora of disparate resources who enjoy lending a hand or giving advice to an aspiring entrepreneur. The successful entrepreneurs realize the value of these relationships and are constantly focused on increasing their network.
RBTC: What is one lesson you have learned over time that has made an impact on your business’ day-to-day operations?
Kevin: Never stray from your core values. Honesty, integrity, and a commitment to treat team members, clients, and your competitors the way you expect to be treated will pay enormous dividends in the long run.
RBTC: How would you like to see the Roanoke-Blacksburg region develop over the next 5 years?
Kevin: I have no doubt that the next five years will bring meaningful growth and prosperity to our region. In my opinion, the main drivers of this growth will come from the regional innovation and entrepreneurial seeds that are now being sowed. The amount of excitement, effort, focus, and resources that are being thoughtfully poured into these areas are going to be our main catalyst for moving our region forward. This is an exciting time to be in the region and I’m thrilled with where we are and where we are heading.