Former ISS Vice President Discusses Success Factors for Start-ups

Seven years later, the Internet is a vital part of our economy, ISS is a $223 million company with 1,200 employees -- and McGonnigle believes the factors that were crucial to the Atlanta-based security company's success remain crucial to early-stage companies today.
"One of the most important things I've learned is the importance of believing passionately in what you are doing," said McGonnigle, who is the newest entrepreneur-in-residence at Georgia Tech's Advanced Technology Development Center. "Passion is a great motivator. As a leader, if you can tap into the passion of your team, people will go to great lengths to deliver because they are passionate about what they are doing."
A shared passion leads to what McGonnigle views as a second key factor: a balanced and compatible management team focused on growing the business.
"The value of a great team, people who share a common value system and wake up every day with a common mission, can't be underestimated," he said. "You can have two companies with similar business plans and equivalent capital, and what will differentiate one from the other is the people. It comes down to how well you can execute, how well you motivate and how well you muster the resources and charge off in the right direction."
Among small companies today, McGonnigle often sees a misplaced focus on technology as the driver of success. "I have met with a number of early-stage companies founded by technical people who put the technology at the top and see other components as necessary evils," he explained. "You can find a lot of cases in which great people and great execution outdid the best technology."
A graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in mechanical engineering, McGonnigle was responsible for ISS' channel strategy since the company's inception, and most recently led the firm's business development team in forging and managing strategic alliances with global service providers, systems integrators and consulting firms.