Vincent is a self-motivated, energetic, enthusiastic CEO who seeks to increase organizational efficiency and improve sustainable revenue while reducing cost.
Blessed with an agile technical mind, Vincent is able to come up with innovative ideas to seemingly intractable problems through critical thinking and objective analysis. He has a track record of building relationships with upper-level decision makers, seizing control of critical problem areas, and delivering on customer commitments.
Over the years, Vincent has enjoyed the challenges and victories inherent in building businesses from the ground up. He led a company from 5 to 340 employees in 5 years and was regarded as the industry thought leader, with a compelling content and an account-based digital marketing strategy driving annual sales from 0 to $60M in revenues.
DigitalAMN scored an interview with Reg CF, and Reg A+ Expert, and Investor, Vincent Petrescu from truCrowd.com, Fundanna.com, and CryptoLaun.ch. We discuss career highs and lows, life growing up behind the Iron Curtain and leadership.
How did you get started along your career path?
It’s been a long road! Academically speaking, I’m an engineer, however a shift occurred when I was attending college in Romania. Through no fault of my own, accounting came so easily to me that during one of the accounting labs, one of my professors asked me to be a “teaching assistant” in the next semester. So I helped one half of the class, and she helped the other. What was funny to me at the time was that I didn’t learn any accounting in high school, so I had no clue about my hidden skill.
My professor was also the university’s CFO and she recruited me to work in the finance department. A friend from college eventually settled in America, opened a telecom company and brought me on an H1 visa to be their CFO because of my professor’s referral convincing them of my capacity for the role.
In 2004, I attended Indiana University – Kelley School of Business and did a dual Master’s degree – an MBA and Master of Science in Strategic Management.
Then at one point I had 3 CPAs on staff which made me feel like the weakest link so I took my CPA licence.
After getting my CPA license, I later got my PMI-ACP certifications because the company needed better project management practices.
In 2010, I realized that I still had time left so I started an AACSB-accredited PhD program which I stopped after 2 years upon discovering that a balanced scorecard doesn’t help small businesses. My research was a fail so I wanted to quit because it didn’t make sense to continue. Ultimately received a post graduate certificate in business research and consultancy for my two year stint.
Professionally, I’ve felt spurred on by my employees because they were a lot smarter, so I felt I needed to do something about it! For me, IQ wasn’t enough so I sought training.
My migration to crowdfunding came when I was a CFO. At one point we were serving about 300,000 customers and we needed money for a new cell phone project. My suggestion at the time was that if we asked everyone to give us $10, we can finance the project. My boss said yes, it’s a good idea, but I’d go to jail because of securities laws. So that was the death of my idea and the birth of a dream.
I wasn’t making tons of money, but it was enough to be considered accredited by the SEC, however the minimum to invest was $25k which was too much for me. I was qualified as accredited but I wasn’t rich, I could only invest $500 at a time. Then I saw regulation crowdfunding, I knew it would solve both my problems at once. Crowdfunding is the solution for struggles I experienced first hand, allowing me to see both sides clearly because I’m straddling the gray area.
I had a bit of a merchant streak growing up. I had a valuable stamp collection as a kid (keep in mind this was Romania during Communism) so I was trading them with other kids. I didn’t realize it but that was my first taste of deal making and negotiating.
What’s the best career decision you’ve ever made?
When I decided to move to America. I had had enough of Romania behind the Iron Curtain, so it was time to leave. It was tough to start over in a new country but it was worth it. I don’t think I’d have enjoyed the same path had I stayed in Romania.
What’s the worst career decision you’ve ever made?
I’ve made lots! With regards to business, the worst decision I made was at my last company, in which I had a percentage of ownership. I wasn’t smart enough to sell that equity on an installment payment which was a huge mistake.
Professionally, during my CFO years there were moments when profits came before employees and colleagues, so sometimes I had to let people go, which felt horrible.
What do you think is your greatest strength as a leader?
I’m always trying to bring out the best in the people I work with. For example, in a team of five people, I can bring 100% but it’s better if I can help them increase their efficiency by 60%-80% as a team because everyone wins. The company is better off, even if I sacrificed 20 points, each teammate increased their performance by 20 points. I found employees are happier because they’re more efficient and happier at work. My strength is to work with people to bring their best to the forefront.
What is the worst thing as a leader?
Public speaking! I really struggle with it. I spent lots trying to improve but it’s not where it should be at this stage in my career so I delegate it if I can.
Who’s someone you admire?
Barack Obama, no doubt. He’s an enigmatic leader, amazing speaker, incredibly intelligent, and compassionate. It’s hard to fake those qualities for eight years.
What’s your superpower?
Public speaking. HA!
What’s some advice you’d give to younger Vincent?
He should live his life more and not spent too much time on training, education and work. Young Vincent should have a bit more fun! I was reflecting on my last 17 years in the US and I realized I worked too much and didn’t have much fun.
What motivates you?
Academically, I’m a curious person and want to learn more, I think this may be the engineer in me. I see a challenge and think it should work so I try to find a solution. My method, while slightly self indulgent, is to start reading and learning about a subject which brings me immense joy because I love learning. My main motivation overall is to see a problem and find a solution.
What do you think of Elon Musk’s excruciating NYTimes interview?
I think he’s entitled to do what he wants with his life, but he has duties. In his position as CEO of Tesla, he has responsibilities. If he can’t restrain himself, and be private then it’s time to quit because your behavior isn’t matching your duties. You can’t blindly do what you want in that position. Seems like it’s time to take a break and sleep, the walls won’t collapse.
I feel bad for him, it’s tough. Bet he can’t disconnect.
*Interview has been edited for length and clarity
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