Dell Technologies is famous world-wide for switching up the personal computer game, but less is known on the impact Dell Technologies makes for startups and small businesses. Through a close partnership with ventureLAB, Dell Technologies has been committed to reducing the obstacles for tech entrepreneurship. By supplying the tools necessary for companies to bring their products to market and accelerate their growth, Dell Technologies is helping to push Canadian innovation forward.
To those who know the origin of Dell Technologies story, this focus on the entrepreneur should come as no surprise. Michael Dell, founder, chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies, has in many ways encapsulated the ultimate entrepreneur. Most famously, he changed the customer journey for personal computers. Where every other computer company at the time made the assumption that customers wanted the immediate reward of walking out of the store with a computer, Dell Technologies understood that many customers were happy to wait and place a customized order if it meant they could get exactly what they wanted at a reduced price.
Less well known is that Michael Dell has embodied the entrepreneurial spirit since childhood, starting his first successful business at 13. He took apart his first Apple computer at age 16, which he bought with his own money, to better understand how it worked, and started Dell Technologies as a teenager out of a college dorm room at the University of Texas.
We sat down with Dom Nocera, Country Manager, Mid-Market Canada at Dell Technologies to get some of his insights on innovation, special advice to tech founders, and what makes Dell Technologies completely unique in the market.
Dell Technologies’s involvement with the Canadian tech startup community is not so surprising when looking at the inception of Dell Technologies and Michael Dell’s personal story. How have those company roots impacted Dell Technologies’ business model of today?
In the 80s, PC’s were being sold to commercial businesses and consumers through channel partners with set configurations. But the presets weren’t always right for the customer, and they had to work through a middleman. Dell Technologies pioneered selling directly to the customer, eliminating the middleman and reducing the cost of the PC. This had great benefits for the customer, who could now configure their computer exactly the way they wanted and without paying for components they don’t need.
A lot has changed since then but the fundamentals have remained the same. The differentiated business model is still the same if you look at how we go to market versus our competition. We are the only ones to offer a solution right from the PC, to networking, to the data centre, to the cloud and then there is security that overarches all of that, which is a big differentiator.
When you want to know what people value, look at where they put their dollars. Dell Technologies market share is number one for servers, storage, displays, and workstations. We’re in 98% of all Fortune 500 companies. There’s a reason people trust us.
What makes Dell Technologies unique in the technology space?
Michael Dell has always put innovation at the forefront. In his latest book, he imparts 21 lessons; one of those lessons is “change or die.” If you continue to do the same things over and over again, eventually they’ll catch up to you.In addition to that, he always had a big focus on the customers.
Our purpose is to create technology to advance human progress. Not to make great computers or be the most profitable company, but to advance human progress. It’s a lofty goal, but one that I admire and stand behind,
Dell Technologies powers digital transformations by working with not-for-profit organizations like ventureLAB. Why is it important for Dell Technologies to be involved in that way?
Dell Technologies vision of enabling human progress fits seamlessly into what not-for-profits like ventureLAB are doing. ventureLAB is focused on helping people and furthering the innovation agenda. I think it’s really important that we continue to help not-for-profits like ventureLAB that are aligned with our goals. What we’re ultimately trying to do is the same thing, from different perspectives
What advice would you give to founders who are trying to get into the tech innovation space?
There are a few things that a founder needs to do, and a lot of them are similar to what Michael Dell Technologies did. But there was one thing that Michael didn’t have at his disposal that we have today, and that’s data.
Hire a data scientist and use the data. It helps you figure out what markets you should be selling in and who your customer is down to geography, vertical and industry.
Then, use the data to pivot if you need to. We sometimes get married to a plan, and we think it’s a good plan, and when it’s not working we decide, well, let’s give it more time. The data will tell you then something isn't working.
Don’t stick to that bad plan. Take calculated risks: “Change or Die”. Instead of getting stuck on one thing, be agile. It will get you much farther along. Success is a terrible teacher. We learn from failure, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Fail fast so that you can recover and pivot.
Differentiate yourself. There will always be a close follower, always someone trying to take your idea and make it better and emulate you, so you need some strong differentiators.
And finally, hire the right people. The people will make you sink or swim. We often say, “that’s a great company” where people really should say “the people that work at that company are great people” because that’s what runs the company. When you’ve got the right people, ones that you can trust, who are on the same page as you, that believe in your vision and have the same passion that you do about whatever it is you’re doing, that’s going to be the key to success.
Dell Technologies has been, at its roots, a place of startup grit and founder-first mentality. Through people like Dom, and that entrepreneurial mindset perforating through the business strategy, Dell Technologies is set on a mission to accelerate digital transformation in Canada. Starting with this partnership, Dell Technologies is supporting ventureLAB clients in planning their business for future acceleration and growth, and making sure they have everything they need to succeed.
ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets. Join us.