Billion Dollar Company Book

Billion Dollar Company

An entrepreneur's guide to business models for high growth companies by Robert H. Hacker

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About Bob Hacker

Professional Teaching Community Service One Laptop Per Child Home

Professional

I am a business strategist, financial consultant, college professor, and blogger. What runs through all these activities is a profound understanding of the convergence of strategy and finance. Over the years the role of information technology has become increasingly critical to understanding this convergence and I have become more and more a technologist. My interest in technology is what now gets me up in the morning; my ability to develop strategies is how I differentiate everything I do; my knowledge of finance is how I earn much of my living.

From the time I left Hamilton College with a philosophy degree I have basically traveled the world on behalf of clients and companies that employed me. While some would have turned this into a study of foreign cultures, early on I rejected the notion that the world's people are all different. I opted to look for lessons, techniques and customs that I could make part of my own approach to business and life. The resultant approach is almost equally influenced by Latin America and Asia, and hopefully I have extracted the best concepts.

I learned most of my basic finance at Chase Manhattan Bank in their International Credit Training Program, back in the days when commercial banks were widely respected. An MBA at Columbia University provided more theoretical knowledge of finance and trading derivatives in Asia was my post-graduate training. I have found that theory is the basis for all good finance and that risk management is a critical component in any financial decision.

I learned about strategy working for a big consulting firm in New York after business school and then refined these skills over the next ten years doing strategy work for the largest companies in Japan, such as Fujitsu and Marubeni Corporation. I have been a life long student of business strategy and believe that every significant business decision or problem starts with strategy.

These first seventeen years turned out to be excellent preparation for the next phase of my career as an operating executive. I went to Indonesia and built a retail company with $1 billion in revenue. Working with the Darmawan family, we built the then largest retailer in Asia outside Japan–Matahari Putra Prima. We built the company by using access to foreign capital to leverage the strategy, by constantly planning and by always focusing on the customer. In a sense it was the culmination of all my previous business experience. I have been looking for another Matahari ever since, but I am still looking.

After the Asian Financial Crisis, in 1999 I returned to the U.S., was involved in an Internet company and ran a telecom company for three years. These two positions greatly increased my understanding of information technology and fostered a continuing desire to learn more. What I do now is explained below.

Today I am a strategist, capital raiser and operating executive. I create the strategies to grow large companies, I raise the capital to support the strategies and I have the operating experience (much of it in emerging markets) to execute the strategies or advise on execution. I carry out my activities through GH Capital Partners, headquartered in Miami, but my clients are global.

I tend to work on complex projects that involve a combination of strategy and finance. I work with both private and publicly traded companies. My smallest client was a startup medical device company seeking venture capital and my largest client has annual revenues of over $1 billion and completed 27 acquisitions in the last five years.

I am also an advisor to several early stage companies and always welcome the opportunity to meet new entrepreneurs.

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Robert H. Hacker
Robert H. Hacker

Teaching

In 2004 I was lucky enough to fulfill a life long ambition and secure a teaching position as an Adjunct Professor at Florida International University. A year later through the support of Dr. Alan Carsrud and Dean Joan Remington I became the entrepreneurship professor at FIU's highly regarded School of Hospitality and Tourism. Teaching entrepreneurship allowed me to bring together a lifetime of business education and experience into a cogent body of thought on how to develop and execute a business concept.
My teaching has been greatly helped by my blogging on Sophisticated Finance, which in many cases served as the opportunity to really think through the concepts presented in class. Every semester I tell my students to read my blog, but they never believe that almost the entire course content is written out for them in simple, short blog posts.

When I began teaching I thought of it as community service–a form of giving back. However, from teaching I have learned so much, benefited career wise and grown as a person so that I no longer can honestly call it community service. Teaching is one of the most enjoyable things I do.

From my teaching I have become a popular workshop presenter on a wide range of entrepreneurship, finance and strategy related topics. From the popularity of these workshops, I found the way to write Billion Dollar Company.

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Robert H. Hacker
Teaching at the Non-Profit Seminar

Community Service

Much of my community service is done through the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, the volunteer arm of the Coast Guard. I am a coxswain (which puts me in charge of a boat) and the flotilla officer responsible for probably the largest search and rescue fleet in Florida. The volunteers in the search and rescue fleet are the most dedicated and selfless people I have ever worked with and fine seaman.

I also teach several boating safety classes every year in Spanish for the Auxiliary. Why a gringo is teaching in Spanish in Miami is beyond me, but the great benefit is that I now have the confidence to teach in Spanish anything I can teach in English-business, strategy, boating-it does not matter. However, I am funnier in English.

As a result of my teaching at FIU I became a Board member of the Pino Entrepreneurship Center at the university. The Pino Center is the focal point of entrepreneurship at the university and my hope is that over time the Center will become the leading educational institution for entrepreneurship in Latin America.

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Robert H. Hacker
 

One Laptop Per Child

I am currently the CFO of the OLPC Association, Nicholas Negroponte and Seymour Papert's MIT Media Lab inspired project to provide a modern education to every child in the developing world through laptop computers. This project has greatly expanded my knowledge of computers, operating systems, applications and educational pedagogy. I am not a full-fledged card carrying MIT geek, but I am working on it. I travel frequently for OLPC and would welcome the opportunity to speak about OLPC with students, possible project sponsors, NGOs or other interested groups.

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Robert H. Hacker
One Laptop Per child