The Straube/Paul Deal

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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

that."

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."

Top Of Page
The Straube/Paul Deal

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

spare time.

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

for me."

Pete Mladineo


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