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Steve SoperSteve Soper is the Founder and Principal at AdaptivEdge, a cloud-focused technology company that provides enterprise software consulting services to small, growing, and enterprise business customers. He has been a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization of San Francisco since 2015 and currently sits on the Board of Directors.

Steve worked as the Director of Enterprise Software for FusionStorm and as a financial consultant in the healthcare industry, providing expert financial planning. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with a degree in business administration and a concentration in accountancy. Additionally, he holds a SharePoint 2013 MCP certification.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Steve Soper explains his serendipitous beginning as an entrepreneur
  • How Steve was able to grow and pivot his organization to produce growth in the first year
  • Why Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) chapter events are valuable networking and relationship-building tools
  • Steve discusses creating a custom project that transformed a client’s organization

In this episode…

How can you position your brand to provide better services to clients? What tools are available for entrepreneurs to share and connect with other brands?

Steve Soper dove into the entrepreneurial world under fortuitous circumstances, but it was his determination and eagerness to learn that successfully scaled his organization. He created a solution to improve security and compliance and build better business solutions to increase profitability for clients. Now, Steve is here to share how to find solutions and network with other entrepreneurs to create a thriving business.

In this episode of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, John Corcoran sits down with Steve Soper, Founder and Principal at AdaptivEdge, to discuss how a new beginning and strategic partnerships pivoted his business for growth. Steve talks about how he built a profitable and successful organization, the benefits of collaborating with companies, and how networking with others can enhance growth.

Resources mentioned in this episode

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:02  

Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.

John Corcoran  0:12  

Alright, welcome everyone. John Corcoran here. I am the co-host for today’s show. And I’m really excited today because we’ve got a great guest. His name is Steve Soper. And Steve is the founder and principal of AdaptivEdge, which was formed in 2013. AdaptivEdge provides enterprise software consulting services to enterprise and small business customers. And he has also been a member of EO San Francisco since 2015, and serves on the board as well. And he’s kind of an accidental entrepreneur never really intended to get into entrepreneurship, but we’re going to share his story and find out how he got into entrepreneurship. And of course, this episode is brought to you by EO San Francisco, EO The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global peer to peer network of more than 15, 16 Actually 16,000 Now, influential business owners with 200 chapters in 60 plus countries if you’re a founder, co founder owner or controlling shareholder of a company generating a million dollars a year in gross revenues, and want to connect with other like minded successful entrepreneurs, EO is for you EO San Francisco chapter enables leading entrepreneurs in the Bay Area to learn grow and achieve greater success? Yes, San Francisco was founded in 1991. And today has over 100 members in industries ranging from marketing to agriculture to tech and professional services. You can go to EOnetwork.org/SanFrancisco to learn more about it. And Alright, Steve, I’m excited to have you here today. And we were joking a little bit beforehand. And there’s kind of two different flavors of entrepreneurs, there’s the types that would like at age six, seven, they’re out, doing lemonade stands on their parent’s lawn. And then there’s others that maybe come to it later. And they weren’t even expecting it. They weren’t didn’t study something in school, where they were preparing to be an entrepreneur. But you know, life happens. And somehow they end up in that opportunity. You said, You’re the latter half that’s, that’s, you?

Steve Soper  2:02  

Yeah, that’s right, John, I always wanted to work in business. And, you know, I just was a kid, I told my mom, I love to put a big, big bank and said, I want to work in there someday. So it was always just kind of enthralled with and interested in business. But never saw myself as an entrepreneur and wanting to own my own business thoroughly. My degree was in accounting. And if you are in accounting, you know, it makes you pretty conservative, if you’re not already pretty conservative to begin with. But after working in the field of accounting for about five years, you know, it was the.com era, I was living in San Francisco in 2000. And everybody was jumping ship to go work for dot coms, I was meeting, the Secretary of Google who just made half a million dollars on stock. So I moved over to high tech, and, you know, worked for tech tech for 13 years at a firm and then decided I needed to do something different. When I went to tender my resignation, the owner, who I’d known for many years, and the Chairman of the Board of that firm said, Hey, I’ve got an offer for you. Why don’t you just go start your own company and take your team? And you know, we’ll just subcontract all the business to you. And offer. It was a great, wow. And that’s not what I was planning to do. I had no idea that that was going to be the outcome of that.

John Corcoran  3:30  

What do you think he made such a generous offer?

Steve Soper  3:33  

Um, he made a generous offer, because I resigned or give them my notice to resign at a time when they were have to do some layoffs and

John Corcoran  3:45  

pare down the staff.

Steve Soper  3:47  

That’s right. I had a team of 10 engineers on the team that reported to me, and and so it was kind of serendipitous in the sense that by allowing me to leave and start my own company, and take whichever teammates, you know, whatever people on the team I want to take and then they weren’t they laid off everybody. I didn’t take them to the you know, basically lay off 10 People with engineer salaries, but still retain the services to service their clients and have not interrupt any, you know, ongoing engagement.

John Corcoran  4:18  

So if they were doing layoffs, probably because of something being awry, or cashflow issues or something. How did you prevent? You know, if you’re taking over the same team, doing some of the same work? How did you prevent, you know, running into the same problem that that company had run into when you had the same team similar type of work?

Steve Soper  4:39  

Well, the company was about a $600 million dieted reseller, and my my team was about my team and the branch was about $4 million. So okay, I was a very small piece of what they did and what we did was profitable, but the business had made other decisions that were not so profitable and to your point, put them in a difficult cash flow situation. So they had some, they had some note holders that, you know, based on some covenants that they had, you know, for maintaining cash flow and equity, you know, basically said, Hey, you now have to do these layoffs because of that. But the problem was never with my team or my practice there. And so I was confident that we could be profitable. In fact, even more profitable if we didn’t kind of have some of these other, you know, some of this debt that was being being held over us that really was limiting what we could do.

John Corcoran  5:31  

Wow, best of both worlds, it seems like,

Steve Soper  5:35  

yeah, yeah, so I thought so one would not offer, you know, when that door opened, I, you know, I just thought, as much as I had never seen myself as an entrepreneur or wanted to be an entrepreneur, I just thought, you know, hey, if I don’t pursue this opportunity, I will always regret not having tried it or not having it having a sport, and, you know, is just too good of an opportunity to pass up.

John Corcoran  6:02  

So did you do over seven figures in your first year?

Steve Soper  6:05  

Close, close. Because, yeah, pretty close. Because we just kind of were able to take all the open windows and a lot of the existing business and just bring that over? Yeah,

John Corcoran  6:15  

pretty phenomenal. Because, you know, I was in the accelerator program. And I remember the statistic, only 4% of businesses make it over seven figures. So pretty phenomenal to start off, start off that way or so close.

Steve Soper  6:27  

Yeah. And it was, you know, probably for me with that conservative accounting background I talked about, that was probably the only way I was going to be going entrepreneurs if it was a pretty sure thing, right? Or, or, you know, so I was basically doing the same thing I was doing before with the same team servicing the same clients with basically kind of a guaranteed book of business to start with. And so I had a lot of confidence going into that, that we could be successful at that.

John Corcoran  6:56  

So since you were risk averse, though, it’s kind of the egg in one basket kind of problem, right? Because all your business is coming from one source. And what if they turn around and say, you change your mind? I know, you just hired 10 people from our company, but we change our mind. So how did you prevent event prevent against that type of scenario?

Steve Soper  7:14  

Well we, I was very conscious of that. Because our first year business, all our business came from that one, that one partner. Obviously, that was a huge risk. So we worked hard in subsequent years to sort of wean ourselves off of them, but more importantly, to bring on other partners and get other lines of business going. And in fact, that company three years ago, was purchased by a UK based company that’s publicly traded, and we’re still doing some work for them. But the point being that, you know, it’s never good to have too many eggs in one basket. And by every year in our business with them stepped down to I think, you know, last year, they were less than 10% of our overall revenue. So it’s pretty, we’ve been able to mitigate that over time. Fortunately, fortunately, they they were stable enough to get us through a few years to allow us the time to do that. Which was

John Corcoran  8:08  

good to have some kind of whale client like that early on help you get stabilized and then establish those other lead sources or clients.

Steve Soper  8:17  

Yeah, I think a lot of entrepreneurs have a similar story like that, where that I’ve heard, you know, where they had a really big client. And they knew that if they could pivot to their own company and service that client, it would give them the foundation they needed in the springboard to then be able to then expand from there. But a lot of cases, I think, you know, that one big client is kind of what you have to have to start off with.

John Corcoran  8:42  

Yeah, speaking of the eggs in one basket metaphor to take it too far. You You specialize in Microsoft software. What’s the thinking around that just just having one type of software that you specialize in? Because there’s always that tension between, you know, do we do we do this one thing really well? Or do we offer other types of services or work with other types of software?

Steve Soper  9:05  

Yeah, great question. For the first 10 years that I was at the firm that I was at previous, from 2000 to 2010, I led an Oracle practice. So for many years, you know, I really ended all Oracle, which is kind of funny, because Oracle and Microsoft are our big competitors, obviously. And so there was a lot of, you know, philosophical, sort of like elitism in Oracle by how they were better than Microsoft, etc. At the end of the day, I don’t really care about that, though, what I want and what I enjoy doing, and I think what our team enjoys doing is coming up with and helping find solutions that help businesses collaborate, help them, improve their security and compliance and help to build business solutions that make people’s lives better, easier, increased profitability. already, and help them in turn serve as their clients. So at the end of the day, I don’t really care which tool that is, per se. It’s more just about what is at the time the most effective tool that allows us to do that. And obviously, Microsoft is a massive company with a huge amount of tools, I really liked their CEO. Over the last few years, he’s really changed everything. And he’s made the company a cloud first company. And I think they’ve done a really good job of building products that really enable us to customize and tweak and modify those those implementations to really be successful for different kinds of clients in different industries, and to really meet and understand their business objectives and then customize the solutions so that it really works well for them and can be actually a competitive advantage for them and intellectual property.

John Corcoran  10:54  

Now you started company 2013, joined the EO, San Francisco chapter around 2015. So a couple of years later, what happened in that period of time? Were there big challenges, was there any near death experiences with the company? What What drew you to join an organization to get that kind of support?

Steve Soper  11:13  

Yeah, I had, I had a minority business partner at the time. And that was causing me a lot of challenges. And I needed some outside influence. Regarding that, also, I just realized that I didn’t, I don’t think like an entrepreneur, I wasn’t one of these, one of these people that, you know, as a kid was out there with a lemonade stand. And, and I needed to be around other people that that had faced similar challenges. And it’d be around people who thought differently than I did, and could push me and challenge me and inspire me to do things that don’t come naturally or work to me or easily to me. And I just needed a group to influence influence that I had a really good friend of mine, who was a CEO of another company in North Carolina, and he recommended EO spoke very highly of EO. So you know, that was kind of how I heard about it. And it’s been great. But, you know, I really just needed needed to increase, you know, my, my, my vision and expand my influence, and, you know, be around other people who had either experienced solving some of these issues, and or just came to him with the problems and challenges of being entrepreneur with a different mindset that I had that you know, that I didn’t naturally have. And I want to try to build more of that entrepreneur mindset. And I think the way to do that is to be around other entrepreneurs.

John Corcoran  12:38  

Yeah. And then I know that a couple of years ago, maybe a year ago or something like that, you decided to get involved in the board? What led to that decision? And what, what has that been like for you?

Steve Soper  12:51  

Well, number one, I felt like it was my time after being in EO for six years and watching a lot of other people give up their time. And I benefited from all of their effort that they put in, I felt like it was my time to give back, probably over my time to give back. But I felt like it was time for me to do that. And I also felt like I was at a place with my business where I I could afford the time to do that. The other thing is that I knew from going to chapter events, that there were some really great people on the board. And in the chapter that I just wasn’t getting exposure to and, and getting to form relationships with excited wasn’t putting in the time or wasn’t there. So joining the board was really a way for me to just expand, then take some of my form experience, which has been phenomenal, but to expand that and really get to know more of the folks in the chapter. And it certainly has done that I’ve really enjoyed getting to know other people in the board. And it’s really enhanced my experience. And hopefully I’ve been able to contribute and give back to the chapter in a way that that, you know, is is helpful, and certainly that I felt like I owed it in some level. But it’s been great. And it’s it’s like everything you need to especially serving as a moderator or being on the board. There’s so many lessons I’m able to take back to my company and back to the business that that I’m able to implement and it makes makes my company better you know, and helps that and in that level to these all of these learnings they all transfer you know to different different places, which is great.

John Corcoran  14:29  

So your role in the board you’re involved in recruiting. So give us your best sales pitch though someone’s listening to this hasn’t joined the chapter thinking about joining the chapter. Give it to me.

Steve Soper  14:41  

Um, I just like to say that EO speaks to the entrepreneur holistically, not just about business challenges, but also about community personal and all facets of entrepreneurship, which anybody that’s an entrepreneur knows. The lines are not clean. It’s not like you You know, shut your computer off at five o’clock, and you can just stop thinking about it. So I think, talking about all of the aspects of EO, that really address holistically what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, and what that means, not just for running a business, but what does that mean for your personal life and your personal well being, what does that mean for your relationships, etc. And then I just talk about just the breadth of EO, and how much there is to do to learn from and to benefit from, from global events that are held all over the world and really cool locations, with fantastic presenters down to regional events, where you get to know people with that throughout the whole region down to your chapter events, and down to your forum, as well as my do events, you know, based on interest, where you can connect with people all over the globe, based on shared interests, there’s a lot there, probably more than anyone is fully able to absorb or appreciate. But there’s so much there that I challenge anyone you know, to, to not find something at one or all those levels, that’s super beneficial. And meaningful.

John Corcoran  16:14  

we love to acknowledge publicly, people that have had a big impact on our journey along the way. So I’d love it, if you could pick out two people, one from your business side outside of EO, and then another one from inside of EO, you just want to kind of publicly acknowledge for the good work that they do, or the help that they’ve been to you along the way. So starting with someone outside of the business, that has been a big impact on you and your business.

Steve Soper  16:43  

One of my forum mates, Devin Koch has been amazing. He’s a big reason why I joined the board as well. He’s just been such a servant to the chapter. And he’s a guy that just always has a positive attitude about everything all the time. It’s unbelievable, really. But he’s been inspiring not only to see how he handles challenges in his business, etc. But you know, he’s been the president, he served in almost every board role this last year, he stepped in because somebody left and the board was needed somebody and he just immediately stepped in and volunteered his time. And he’s done a great job with that. And he’s really shown me what it means to carry your own bag, and EO which is what what we like to say, which just means that basically, the more University, the more you get involved, the more you get out of it. And he’s somebody that really walks that talk and has shown over the years that I’ve known him, that, you know, there’s so much to get out of EO but that you have to also put yourself out there and he certainly has done that in every capacity for a very long period of time. So he’s been a great forum mate, and has inspired me, you know, on many levels, but seeing his participation level of service that he gets to do is really impressive.

John Corcoran  18:07  

Now how about on the business side, as there’s someone a particular mentor, friend, client referral partner that you would just want to acknowledge for everything they’ve been for you or helped you along the way.

Steve Soper  18:19  

There’s one of our larger clients over the last few years is a company called SAI MedPartners. They deliver strategic consulting services to Big Pharma, medical supply, pharmaceutical companies developing oncology, drugs, etc. Very large, globally well known companies and his Akshay Krishnamachari is his name. And he’s the COO there. And they’ve just entrusted us with some projects that we’ve done for their clients. But at a scale that’s been awesome. We built a basically a portal for all their clients, and all these, you know, drug manufacturers, medical supply manufacturers to access this portal and get real time data that makes a huge impact on where they decide to invest in drugs and r&d and medical supplies, and you know, everything within that realm. And it’s been a challenging project. But it’s been a fun one. And he’s just been, you know, kind and reasonable and articulate and patient. But it’s also challenged us and is is, you know, brought us a lot of business in the last year, a couple of years. And it’s just been an awesome partnership. That not only monetarily, but it feels like we’ve been able to add real value to their business, it feels like we’ve been able to give them a competitive edge in their space. And at the end of the day, that feels really, really good, right? It feels like we’re not just doing some work to keep the lights on or just to kind of move things forward slowly. It feels like we’re really doing phenomenal work there and helping them position themselves and provide services to their clients that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to provide. So that’s been a really awesome relationship that I’ve really enjoyed and, and we’ve benefited from

John Corcoran  20:12  

Steve, This has been such a pleasure. Where can people go to learn more about you or connect with you?

Steve Soper  20:18  

Um, our website is AdaptivEdge.com. It’s a shared E. So it’s at adaptive just one e ege.com. And then I’m on LinkedIn and all the other familiar places under under Steve Soper, if you look up my name and AdaptivEdge, I be easy to find hopefully.

John Corcoran  20:36  

Great. Excellent. Thanks so much. Thanks, John. Appreciate it. Have a great day.

Outro  20:42  

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