Preston Geeting is the co-founder of Packform, a technology platform that is revolutionizing the global packaging industry. He co-founded Packform with serial entrepreneur Philip Weinman in early 2019 because they recognized the opportunity to transform the industry with great technology creating new levels of service, better customer experience, and greater opportunities for all involved.
Since its inception, Packform quickly became the fastest growing packaging company and winner of the global Stevie awards for most innovative startup and technology startup of the year for 2020. (LinkedIn)
Not only that they grow fast and manage to secure $25M in funding in 2021, but they did that to prepare for an IPO in 2022. This is an astonishing achievement, and I wanted to know their stories.
And so, I interviewed Preston in the following podcast to pick great insights and gems from other founders that might find their stories inspirational.
You can listen to the full podcast here or watch the video version here.
NOTE! The full interview and content are available only in audio or video form. The following are snippets from the interview podcast that were edited for clarity and brevity.
The last three years were a great ride for you. How would you describe these years? Have you thought you’ll get here so soon?
Preston Geeting: It’s been an incredible journey. We actually started the business in late 2018 but we were building technology, developing systems, and fleshing out the bugs in the system.
In 2019th when we hit the gas, all hands-on deck focused to scale the business.
I come from the corporate side. I was twenty years with a public company. I worked my way to the top of that. My business partner, Phil Weinman is a serial entrepreneur. So, I think in my world this is an incredible ride, and as enjoying it as it gets bigger in scale every minute.
In Phil’s world, this is what he does for a living. He looks five miles down the road and he knows what the end game is going to be, and then his goal is to get there as quickly as possible. For me, this is journey number one of many, for Phil, this is his 18th one, building businesses, private sale, and going public. So, it’s been an incredible ride.
Preston Geeting saw Philip Weinman on stage in Australia, where he was instantly inspired by him and decided to take him as a mentor. Although Philip declined the request, Preston didn’t give up and pursued Phil till he said yes. Their partnership got quickly up from there.
When you met Phil, did you want to become an entrepreneur, or did you just want him as a mentor?
Preston Geeting: I was looking for an exit for many, many years.
The corporate world and this kind of monotony were a bit boring for me. It provided a nice lifestyle, and I’m thankful for that, but I knew it had to be more out there than just working myself up the corporate ladder, then retiring.
So, when Phil shared his story at that conference in Australia, for me that was the lightbulb moment when I said, ‘OK. This is the exit. Hopefully, this is the right partner. I’ll find out. But this is the right way to exit. This leap from corporate, very sales driven to entrepreneurship seemed like a natural progression, and how can I make this happen.’ Then, obviously pursued Phil, and the rest is history.
How long did it take you two to come up with the idea for this company?
Preston: It happened almost immediately. The conference was about how can we disrupt the industry that I’m in, packaging. That’s when the idea just started flowing. Phil takes an idea and starts to run with it immediately, he’s very impatient. Then just set the groundwork and put the processes in place to be executed.
Fast forward a bit, once the business starts to take legs. Phil gets the bandwagon together. He gest the developers, the marketing, and the admin, and brings all the pieces together with a new industry expert. He brings in a partner who is an expert in this industry, gets his team assembled who have done this many times before, and then from there it’s just a fantastic journey.
Do you mean Peter Williams, as the third co-founder, right?
Preston: Yeah. Peter is a big part of that as well. He’s well known for building Deloitte Digital, a giant digital agency.
So, getting him in the mix on how we’re going to digitally disrupt an industry together with Phil and his entrepreneurial strength and my knowledge in the industry was a pretty nice combination.
As a remote company, how do you manage your meetings?
PG: We established a business that is truly global from day one. We were quick to hop on Zoom and all those sorts of stuff before it was very commonplace. We rarely use email because it’s too slow. We have our systems set up with very quick messaging and movements, so we can keep up as a business and operate essentially around the clock.
From there, we started establishing a back-office and business units, development, all different pieces of a business all over the world. Now, we are currently operating in nine countries.
When did you realize that this can become something big quickly?
PG: Easy. When I was sued by my ex-employers.
That told us that we are on something really good. We all knew then that this was a good sign.
Are they trying to stop us at any cost? Let’s go all-in and make this happen.
How did you accelerate the business so fast?
PG: We built beautiful technology that can scale quickly. So we are not bound by assets, buildings, and just a slow growth in that sense. It’s a digital business.
Our technology can handle as much in sales as we can put into it.
I am sales-based, so my job was to bring in as many sales dollars through the sales channels as possible. Phil with the technology, and it’s still yet to break or to fall. It’s seamless technology.
You grew a lot through COVID. Do you think the timing was one of those ingredients for your success?
PG: Yeah. COVID increased the speed at which we could operate. We watched the traditional companies that are asset leveraged really struggle to figure out how to work. For us, it was a great thing because it speed up the progress of digital businesses.
Who plays the CEO role at Packform because you don’t have such a thing listed?
Preston: We are a flat business. We don’t have titles. It’s not necessary. We each have our responsibilities and make sure our work gets done. Having titles and a hierarchy is just not the way we operate.
What could you share as lessons with other first-time founders coming from the corporate world?
Preston Geeting: A few things that I picked up along the way are the need for unbelievable financial diligence at the beginning. As you said, we were profitable from day one. But we were also very conscious about our spending.
We focused on running a profitable business and limiting expenses where possible. Just being true to that without the need to raise money. Still today, we are operating with the same financial diligence.
The second thing I learned is the power to ask for advice. When you’re formulating a business model, a plan, everybody loves to give advice. It’s free. We sought out really smart industry experts in technology and business.
We listened to their opinion about our model, where the industry is going, and what they recommend. The guidance you can get is amazing. It sharpens your business model, so when you are ready to deploy it, you can do it really fast.
I think that these two things served us really, really well.
The full interview and content are available only in audio or video form.
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