The Bread and Butter Letter 1: Francesco Aimone from IFS
A bread and butter letter is a letter of thanks for hospitality…our version is full of gratitude, thank-yous and advice and will feature founders we’ve backed, our team, and friends of B&B.
Francesco Aimone is the CEO and Founder of Induction Food Systems, an industrial hardware startup developing advanced fluid heating equipment to make food & beverage and chemical manufacturing more efficient and sustainable. The Raleigh, NC based company recently closed a deal with Lubrizol for the purchase of one of their systems and received funding as part of a $3.5M Dept of Energy award to investigate their tech for the oil & gas sector.
Francesco spoke with us about some of the people, things and choices he is most thankful for as an entrepreneur:
Is there a person from growing up who you feel thankful towards?
Many, to be sure. It truly takes a village. From Boy Scout troop leader Dick Coombs who taught me that a love of science can be a career, to the deacon at my church, John Nachtrieb, who modeled compassion & service. Plus countless soccer coaches, teachers, and orchestra directors — all were important role models for me who help me internalize an attitude of servant leadership and leading by example.
Who was instrumental at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey?
I say this without a sense of irony: Brett Brohl. I had been piecing a lot of the entrepreneurial skillset together as I was just starting out. Brett’s coaching helped me get rid of bad habits (analysis paralysis) and he was the first to actually work with me on how to sell. At the end of the day, a good analysis is fine but if you can’t sell you don’t have a startup, no matter how good the product or science is behind it.
What books, podcasts, or blogs have really inspired you as a leader?
The Challenger Sale — I know, not a leadership book per se. My overall takeaway from it was about meeting people where they are. The authors advocate for acknowledging that the world can sometimes change around you, despite your best efforts or even without you knowing it. The book talks about this as a way to decrease friction in the sales process (which it does) but I see it as a compassionate way to interact with people dealing with new things. I also read startups.com for some emotional support from time to time.
Who is an unsung person at your company you’d like to highlight?
Without a doubt, George Sadler, my co-founder. George prefers staying in the background but his persistence and unflagging commitment to what we’re building have not only saved the company a few times as we were just starting out but has driven me to push harder. For a scientist, he sure knows how to inspire with a generousness of spirit and being able to take setbacks in stride.
What do you look back on and thank yourself for doing when you started your company (i.e. what would you recommend to others?)?
Not something that I did right away but is part of how I approach things now: making sure you’re communicating (and negotiating) expectations about the business with your partner or significant other. I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing without my wife, Summer’s, support. Making sure your home is on the same page about things like finances, boundaries with work/life, and acknowledging and agreeing on when you need to break them or reset them are super important.