Corrections or additions?
This article by Peter J. Mladineo was published
in U.S. 1 Newspaper on March 4, 1998. All rights reserved.
Glenn Paul’s Software Adventure
When Edison made that comment about a good idea being
99 percent perspiration, he might as well have been talking about
software. No question, having a good program is requisite, but so
is the ability to market the software successfully, the ability to
work ridiculously long hours, and, if you’re Glenn Paul, the ability
to juggle other existing businesses.
Paul owns Clancy Paul computers, QwikQuote Development, and now Electronic
Business Universe. A bad week could find him up until 6 a.m. updating
databases for his computer stores on one morning and ’til 3 a.m. writing
manuals for his software the next morning.
Then there’s his new partnership with Win Straube, the economist and
patent law attorney who has devoted the latter stages of his career
to developing office centers around the world "staffed" with
state-of-art business technology. Their collaborative effort, Electronic
Business Universe, puts Paul’s software business, QwikQuote Development,
in 2,000 square feet in the Straube Center at 114 West Franklin Avenue,
Pennington. The software company will change its trading name to reflect
Straube’s esoteric business concept and venture, EBU-Arts, and Paul
will take the lead in developing the electronic receptionist, which
Paul is redeveloping from a "klunky" kiosk-model to a phone-based
system that hangs on the wall.
Straube is now a part-owner of Paul’s six-employee software company,
QwikQuote Development, a sales quotation software that gives salespeople
multiple databases, clickable product information, and prices on demand.
"A common complaint among product and marketing managers is that
10 percent of products constitute 90 percent of sales," writes
Paul at the website, http://www.qwikquote.com. "This
is partly because salespeople tend to sell what they know, and, in
today’s environment of complex products, it has become impossible
to stay abreast of your company’s entire product line. QwikQuote remedies
But even a nifty software concept needs sales. "We’ve learned
how to make money selling a $200 package," says Paul. "We’ve
got 800 lines and shipping systems, and people are starting to bring
us little software packages and we’re trying to figure out what else
we could drive through this little marketing machine."
Other parts of this machine include doing plenty of advertising and
market research. "We’ve learned how to reach this market,"
he says. "I spent years advertising in all of the wrong places
before I figured that out." The right places, he reports, include
software catalogs, like Act, Maximizer, and Goldmine. There’s also
an 800 number and a crew that does nothing but take calls all day,
and QwikQuote keeps a database stocked with 11,000 contacts.
Giving the software a name reflective of what it does can help enormously.
The company is already advertising under its new name, Electronic
Business Universe, but Paul seems reluctant to completely lose its
old moniker. "A lot of people know us as QwikQuote," he says.
"We did a little research. We called people and said, `Why did
you buy our product?’ And a lot of people say they liked the name.
It describes exactly what the software does."
But the fundamental maxim is that the software must work. This means
perfecting the design and the testing, and putting loads of sweat
equity into the documentation. "It gets to be something that’s
a group endeavor that you can’t really do in your basement anymore,"
says Paul. "Over the years I have come to realize that every time
we change one thing we break another. Now we’re very careful about
getting the stuff out into the field. It’s really hard to make good
software; I thought it would be easier when I got into it."
It’s not odd that Straube, a lofty business philosopher who runs Straube
Centers out of his home office in Honolulu, Hawaii, would strike a
deal with Glenn Paul, a computer retailer who writes poetry in his
Straube escaped from Communist East Germany, earned an economics degree
in Germany and a patent law degree in the United States. Twenty years
ago he opened the Straube Center in a former liqueur plant. It now
houses more than 40 companies, including many high tech firms. He
runs the business from a home office in Honolulu.
Straube possesses a passion for innovation and a deep reverence for
efficiency. "If you look at any outstanding business executive
you will find out that they are extremely productive," he says.
"They have learned to set priorities."
Paul, 40, hails from Atlanta and earned an English degree from Princeton
University in 1979. He started Clancy Paul in 1981, sold it to ValCom
five years later, and bought the Princeton Shopping Center store back
from ValCom in 1991.
Last October this paper reported a "chance first
meeting" between Paul and Straube at U.S. 1’s Poetry and Fiction
Showcase held at Encore Books. While their August meeting really did
spawn a synergistic business partnership, Straube reports that this
wasn’t their first meeting. That took place at the Nassau Club in
1981, the formative days of Clancy Paul Computers. Paul had given
a demonstration of his computer ideas, and Straube remembers being
suitably impressed. "One of our companies has used Clancy Paul
as a supplier of computers since it opened and does so today."
The U.S. 1 tete-a-tete wasn’t a coincidence either, Straube reports.
He had gone with the intention of broaching a deal. Paul, in turn,
could appreciate Straube’s international viewpoint. "There’s a
big market outside of the U.S.," says Paul.
And QwikQuote relates to Straube’s philosophy of refining business
technology into a futuristic esthetic. The modern age, Straube feels,
is defined by its devotion to transforming the way business is conducted
into an art form. Straube calls this concept EBU Arts. "EBU Arts
are taking over or have become a very important ingredient of our
life," he says. "It is the electronic business universe that
enables us to live more in the same amount of time, and do more and
accomplish more. This is what Straube Center is about."
Straube Center businesses get everything from phones and faxes, ISDN
lines, T-1 lines — all the electronic amenities needed to do business
with the rest of the world. "You can come with your toothbrush
and hook in and you’re there," says Straube.
What does Paul get merging QwikQuote into the EBU concept? Money is
one. "This has been a labor of love," says Paul. "I couldn’t
find any venture capitalists that found this very interesting —
that pretty much has been the story of my businesses."
Second, Paul’s "little marketing machine" had previously resembled
something of a Straube Center on wheels, moving from house to house.
"We had so much crammed into this house and it was all electronically
driven," says Paul. "You’d call in and you would think you
were getting a pretty good-sized business. I had five guys."
This mirage wasn’t lost on the computer industry; QwikQuote was named
Homebased Business of the Year by AT&T and Entrepreneur magazine.
But QwikQuote was gaining customers like mad and was developing
the mobile dexterity of an Iraqi bio-weapons operation. "I moved
to my new house and had a pretty big basement there. Then we moved
to the back of Clancy Paul in Trenton. Then Win came along and said,
`I’ve got this big beautiful Straube Center,’ and we moved in there."
But the most valuable asset that Paul could be gaining is another
mentor in Straube (his first partner, Bob Clancy, was nearly twice
his age). "He’s a really smart man," says Paul. "We communicate
pretty frequently by E-mail. I’ve always had the benefit of being
in business with very bright older men and it’s always worked well
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