It took a while for the three cofounders at the newly-launched PNR consulting firm to shake free of their former gigs.
Nectarios Economakis, Jean-Francois Leduc and Martin Gourdeau all worked at reputable tech companies – Economakis was the first employee in business development at Google Montreal and Leduc spent years at Yahoo! before becoming partner of one of the largest agencies in Canada. Gourdeau was VP Operations at Global Eagle Entertainment, a world leader in in-flight entertainment.
Even Google offered Economakis a sort of golden handcuffs deal. He could take a six-month sabbatical to “try out” his new startup while remaining an employee. He declined.
“My wife said ‘you’re leaving the best company in the world at Google to do what, exactly?’ Economakis told MTLinTECH, with a laugh.
“But when you start something new you need that deep, deep trust with your partners and I didn’t think six months was enough to deem the project a success or a failure.”
When Economakis declined Google’s offer he called up Leduc and Gourdeau to tell them he was “burning the boats.” There was no going back. It’s part of the reason the trio named the startup “Point of No Return” or PNR.
PNR is a management consulting firm that guides executives with their company’s strategic direction, often revolving around growth challenges. Maybe they want to grow by making strategic acquisitions or perhaps they want to transition to a SAAS model. Or maybe they want to prove their product in China or create a data science business unit. PNR can help.
While consulting has been the majority of PNR’s business thus far, the guys recently released a new, free online platform to help businesses expedite the process.
Economakis told MTLinTECH that tech companies today have too many options on where they can invest their money (new product in China or transition into a SaaS model? And so on). PNR wants to help guide a company on what’s most important. What results is a company that moves faster, said the cofounder.
To get there, PNR advocates the agile method of strategic planning. Agile is a method of project management popular in the software and product world, characterized by the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans.
“The key competitive advantage from our perspective is velocity. The feedback we’ve had from customers using the platform is that they’re basically going faster,” said Economakis. “We saw the intersection of agile and strategic planning as a bit of a white space that no one was attacking and that’s why we developed our platform.”
At first their customers were burned out. They told PNR that they viewed traditional strategic planning, like one to two-day offsite trips with customers, as “bullsh-t.”
“A lot of tech companies say they don’t really have a significant impact and essentially collect dust,” said Economakis. “When we saw all the existing methodologies that were created in the last century we were like, ‘Okay, we need something that’s more adapted to today’s reality.”
What they found was that 90 per cent of SMBs don’t do strategic planning, or mapping out the year with their executive team. PNR wanted to come up with a new model adapted to help younger, newer tech companies.
“The product really resonates with tech companies. Some of them have never had an equivalent to run the company strategy, which is just as important. It’s great to run product but you can’t be disconnected from the rest of the company strategy – finance, HR, every single pillar of the company.”
Users can try out PNR for free or they can upgrade to the $200 per month plan, which includes unlimited users and unlimited sprints.