Shaking Hands with the Real Thing – A Successful Entrepreneur – Pat Matthews

Jim Flowers and Pat Matthews share a Handshake 1.0 

From Jim Flowers:

“Success or failure of a new venture is determined very early, on the strength or weakness of only a few fundamental factors, four, to be exact.  Those four factors are Market, Magic, Mentors, and Moxie.  If these are not "right,” nothing else really matters.  It's not that a business with some weaknesses in these areas can't survive; but it's highly unlikely that it will flourish.”

Excerpted from MOXIE and other fundamental entrepreneurial concepts.

Pat Matthews and two partners started a dot-com business in 2000.  It failed.

The Market at that time was crazy.  Everybody thought they had the Magic.  Since the Internet world was new, effective Mentors were scarce.  But Pat and his partners had the most important factor in abundant supply.  They had Moxie.  And they kept on trucking.

In the midst of failure, Pat met Matt Khan.  “Matt taught me how to handle failure and rejection, how to deal with people more effectively, and how to appreciate the knowledge you can gain from self-help and business books.” 

Meanwhile, a compelling marketplace need became apparent.  Corporate email was becoming a vital part of the commercial world’s basic structure; and it was hard to manage.  There was little defense against spammers or viruses or downtime.  Bingo.  They had found their Market.

But what could differentiate Pat and company from any other email provider?  Simple.  Mailtrust delivered something more than email.  They delivered personal, passionate concern for their clients.  And the word got around.  The Magic was working.

Later on, Howard Kossak came into the picture.  Again, in Pat’s words, “Howard was a local consultant that worked with many entrepreneurs.  Howard and I formed a unique relationship.  Howard was in his 60s and I was in my early 20s.  We developed a real friendship and worked together for two years before I ever hired him.  Howard saw something in me and I could just feel that he truly believed in my potential.  This gave me confidence enough to go out and raise half a million dollars from outside investors to help grow our business.  It didn't matter how many times we failed, Howard believed we'd make it happen.  And we did.”

There’s a name for Matt and Howard and all those books – Mentors.

Moxie.  Market.  Magic.  Mentors.  Well, what do you know?

So how does the story end?  Actually, it hasn’t ended; but there was a great big exclamation point after the most recent chapter.  In 2007, after four straight years of 100% growth, Pat and his team at Mailtrust joined forces with Rackspace, a very, very successful hosting company, led by people as passionate as Pat.  A quick look at Rackspace, by the way, reveals the same conjunction of Market, Magic, Mentors, and Moxie.  They’re clearly a good match.

Pat, I’m proud to shake your hand.

Rackspace was listed on Fortune's 100 Best Companies to work for in 2009.

Jim Flowers is the architect and Director of the VT KnowledgeWorks business acceleration center in Blacksburg, Virginia.  He is the author of MOXIE and other fundamental entrepreneurial concepts.

$100,000 Blog


  1. Here’s a piece of the history of Mailtrust – the evolution of the names for the company, as of 5/21/09, Rackspace Email & Apps:

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