This interview with Brian Halligan, the chief executive of HubSpot, which makes software for marketers, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.
Q. Were you in entrepreneurial roles when you were younger?
A. I had a painting company during college, but nothing particularly interesting.
Q. And after college?
A. There was a guy in our neighborhood whose name was Richard Harrison, and he ended up in sales at a company called Parametric Technology in Boston. It was a really early start-up. He hired me out of college, and that turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. I joined when it was $3 million in revenue, and when I left 10 years later, it was $1 billion in revenue. It just took off, and that’s where a lot of my leadership lessons come from. After I was there for about a year and a half, they asked me out of the blue: “Would you move to Asia and start Asia for us?”
Q. And you were how old?
A. About 25. I remember flying into Hong Kong, looking down at the city and thinking, “I don’t know a single person here.” I had to figure it out, and I just started doing whatever I thought made sense. I built a big business for them over there —– about $100 million, with 300 or 400 people. It grew really fast.
It was formative and influential for me in a couple ways. I have a lot of confidence in young people, and I have a lot of confidence in everyone’s ability to do more than they think they can do. I have very high expectations for people, and I push people to reach even higher.
I take these young kids at HubSpot and I give them huge responsibility. Sometimes they mess it up, but more often than not they get it right. I think, at least in the tech world, gray hair and experience are really overrated. I think my gray hair is overrated.
Q. What’s unusual about the culture of your company?