Entrepreneur Profile: PATRICK DI CHIRO
Name: Patrick Di Chiro.
Title: Chairman and CEO.
Company: Thunder Factory, an integrated marketing
Location: San Mateo with offices in L.A. and New
2004 revenue: $3 million.
Number of employees: 24
Year founded: 2001
Source of startup capital: My savings and a loan
from my brother.
Background: Chief communications officer of E-trade,
VP of global technology marketing for Visa, partner at Ketchum,
director of international marketing for American Express.
Residence: San Mateo.
Web site: thunderfactory.com
Reason for starting business: I felt that clients
were not being well-served by the traditional marketing/advertising/PR
industry, and I felt that I could do a much better job.
Most difficult part of decision: Flying without
a net is always a little bit scary, but it’s also exhilarating.
I had a vision for doing this and I had to do it. Nothing was going
to stop me - not even a market that was starting to go sour.
Biggest plus of ownership: Being able to follow
and rely on my own judgment and instincts. I had very senior positions,
ran major operations for the last 15 to 20 years, but when you’re
working within the context of a big company, you don’t have
that kind of independence - freedom of thought and the ability
to follow your own course.
Biggest drawback: There are no drawbacks for me.
I completely found my métier in life when I started this
Biggest misconception: That you work a lot more.
I don’t. I think about business all the time because I love
thinking about it, but I don’t work more.
Biggest business strength: It’s a combination
of three things: a passion for what I do, having a vision and sticking
to it, and having the experience to make it all happen. Without
experience, I wouldn’t have this business. I tried doing this
once before, in a little bit different form in New York City, but
I wasn’t ready for it yet.
Biggest business weakness: Financial management.
We finally reached the point where we can afford to hire a VP of
finance, and we’re about to do that.
Biggest risk: Aggressively expanding into L.A.
and New York. We moved into L.A. 18 months ago, and now we have
an eight-person office. New York is still very small - two
people - but we just signed a lease for 2,500 square feet
in SoHo and we’re hiring several people. I fully expect New
York will be at least as big as our California operations.
Biggest mistake: Hiring the wrong people who didn’t
fit our culture. I made a couple of doozies there, but luckily I
believe in correcting and moving on.
Smartest move: The same thing - people. Making
some incredible hires that have been major catalysts for the growth
of this business.
Biggest worry: I don’t have any big worries
- just a lot of little ones every day.
Top source of inspiration: First, my parents. And
today it’s very much my team.
Most challenging task: Finding and hiring strong
Favorite task: Actually helping clients to build their business
and seeing them succeed. That sounds like a canned answer, but I
really enjoy seeing then achieve results.
Least favorite task: The financial stuff. Dealing
with the typical cash flow management issues that every young company
Biggest frustration: Managing cash flow.
Source of support in a business crisis: My team.
Key goal yet to achieve: To build a wholly owned
First move with capital windfall: Acquire some interesting marketing
technology we’re looking at and that will accelerate our global
Five-year plan: Continue to hire great people,
attract world-class clients and build a great culture. Expand internationally.
And I see some M&A activity in our future.
Inducement to sell: I’m having too much fun.
First choice for new career or venture: Running
an elegant little hotel and restaurant in wine country somewhere
with an Italian theme.
Most-admired entrepreneur: Howard Schultz, the
Most interested in meeting: Him.
Stress reducers: I walk with my dogs. I enjoy wine
tasting and cooking.
Favorite pastimes: Traveling in wine country of
any sort, vintage automobiles, playing guitar, anything to do with
furniture or interior design.
Favorite book: Anything by Dickens. “David
Copperfield” is probably my favorite.
Favorite film: “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
Favorite restaurant: Jardinière.
Favorite destination: Capri, Italy.
Automobile: 2003 Toyota Prius Hybrid.