WISDOM: find people smarter than you to advise you (my advisors are Men and Women who have led successful careers, overcome incredible obstacles, and have more intellectual horsepower than I could even comprehend. Find them, beg them to share with you, and share with vulnerability, and then listen to their wisdom.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Vanessa Ogle, founder and CEO of Enseo — the world’s largest out-of-home media network. With over 70 patents, Vanessa’s accomplishments can be seen through her delivery of a series of firsts to the technology services industry serving hospitality and education. In 2013, Vanessa revolutionized hotel room technology through developing a powerful platform that is able to evolve over time with society’s rapidly advancing technical landscape. Rather than relying on an integration scheme built on consumer-grade products that age fairly quickly, Vanessa sought to develop an enterprise-grade solution that could accommodate any hotel property, regardless of its age or infrastructure, and deliver advanced technology solutions for guest room entertainment, high speed internet access, 24/7 monitoring and management, and even improve employee security. Through Vanessa’s leadership and vision, Enseo was the first company to bring Netflix into the hotel room, where guests can sign into their own Netflix accounts on their guest room TV. As Enseo’s founder, Vanessa has worked rigorously every day to foster innovation and ensure the company’s success.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I founded Enseo in 2000. I negotiated for 2 years to purchase a division of a public traded corporation that I worked for. We designed and offered hardware, software and technology services provider underlying products that other companies sold and engaged in contracts for. Five years ago, we decided to make a dramatic transformation and became a services and content provider and are now the world’s largest fully monitored out-of-home network reaching of over 50 million users annually. This same technology is now being launched to keep students and teachers safe in classrooms with MadeSafe launched into the K-12 Public School Market.
Why did you found your company?
Thank goodness I didn’t know any better.
What is it about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Everything we do is disruptive. First, we told hotels they needed to stop offering old-style movies on demand and start offering Netflix. They didn’t even know what Netflix was! Then we told those same hotel owners that we could offer a brand-new network without having to re-cable the way the big network companies told them they should.
We have the ability in each of our Enseo powered guest rooms to have the guest be welcomed by the environment they want when they walk into the room. Imagine a seamless and comfortable welcome with your personal network already set up, your perfect temperature, and all your favorite Netflix or Amazon shows already cued up and ready to go… it is ready and available … we just need to get the big brands to listen and turn on what is already in hundreds of thousands of rooms.
We all need a little help along the journey — who have been some of your mentors?
Mom certainly taught me to do more than one thing at one time and that I could do and be anything I wanted. Kay Koplovitz is a woman who doesn’t know the meaning of the word glass ceiling and has used her success and contacts to found Springboard Enterprises. She is my mentor for supporting woman led businesses to get funding and grow around the world. MarrGwen Townsend (the co-founder of Townsend Analytics and Archipelago) is my mentor for putting one foot in front of the other and to not take the first investor deal that is offered to me. She and her husband taught me the importance and reality of being able to find the perfect partner, both at home and at the office.
How are you going to shake things up next?
I am going to do something crazy and shift resources from a highly growth market sector in hospitality technology and divert resources to help keep our children safe in our public K-12 schools across the country. We have proven our product MadeSafe can be an important tool to help keep housekeepers safe in hotel rooms. Why wouldn’t I use this same technology to keep our children safe? This same technology offers safety to students and teachers and also uses that same technology to offer WiFi with no need for new cabling and Distance Learning technology to each classroom… all with one technology.
We are also going back to all the hotel rooms we have installed with our technology and telling them they should help save the environment by adding iOT room control to not waste energy when guests are not in those hotel rooms AND they should care about their employees and turn on MadeSafe to offer an accurate panic button system for the housekeepers. Netflix is good for the guest, Safety is good for the Employees, and Saving Energy is good for the owner… and the planet.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
1. Entrepreneurial INTUITION: Listen and trust your heart. I cannot count how many times people told me my ideas were crazy… now I have more than 60 patents and they are paying dividends to me, my team, and our customers.
2. WISDOM: find people smarter than you to advise you (my advisors are Men and Women who have led successful careers, overcome incredible obstacles, and have more intellectual horsepower than I could even comprehend. Find them, beg them to share with you, and share with vulnerability, and then listen to their wisdom.
3. Lead with COMPASSION (I think my hardest lesson was to learn that I was leading my team on purpose, not by accident. Once I stopped trying to convince people I was good enough for the job, I listened better and with more compassion.
What’s a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Share a story with us.
My favorite book for inspiration is still the Princess Bride. I think we should all “have fun storming the castle”, but Brene Brown and her books and TED talks on Vulnerability and Shame have made me a better mother, wife, friend and certainly leader at work.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to have a conversation with any investor who is TRULY interested in a woman led and woman founded business that has bootstrapped for 19 years and is experiencing explosive growth. I must accelerate this growth beyond my organic capacity to reach more schools to keep kids and teachers safe.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
The easiest way to follow me, is to connect with me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/vanessaogle/, or follow Enseo on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. I have a personal Twitter account @SirenaTek.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!