Andrew C. Grossman’s interest in medicine took him to John Hopkins School of Medicine where he received his MD. After working in medicine for a while, he returned to school and received his MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.
By the age of 35, Andrew C. Grossman was president of Gelco Corporation, a New York Stock Exchange company with 10,000 employees.
In the year 2000, Andrew C. Grossman founded Ambient Consulting, now one of the largest, private IT firms in the upper Midwest. It serves Global Fortune 1000 firms and operates across the US and Asia. He has since founded many successful private companies in medical science, marketing, software development, and more.
Inspired by his interests in history, art, religion, and spirituality, Andrew C. Grossman also has an internal venture group working on projects using artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, Blockchain and other advanced technologies. It spans a number of subject areas from art, photo sharing, archiving, and religion & spirituality.
His interests in art lead Andrew C. Grossman to serve as a trustee at the Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis for several decades. Additional interests of Andrew C. Grossman are the Middle East politics, public affairs, and performance athletics, and he is very involved in the Jewish community in Minneapolis.
A devoted family man, Andrew C. Grossman places a lot of importance on spending time with his four kids and grandson, whom he regards as his legacies.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
Back when I was running Gelco, it was pretty cutting edge at the time in terms of how it used software to manage businesses. When I left after it was purchased by GE, I was aware of technology and I knew that it was the future. I wanted to find a way to be at the frontier of where things were going, and I just happened to run into a person working at IBM who I hadn’t seen in years.
Then the two of us spontaneously put the idea for Ambient Consulting together on the back of a napkin. Very little can happen in this world without computer software, so I wanted to be where the action was.
How do you make money?
Our business has always been profitable. I brought the discipline and professionalism of running a public company to my private business. I like to say that we make money as a by-product of what we’re really all about. I came to understand early in my career, that if you operated at a level of excellence, people would pay you for that and you’d be just fine. For over 20 years we’ve been able to sustain a very good, very profitable business, but I’ve never looked at profits as my objective. Building great products and pleasing customers brings success, and you can have fun at the same time.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Ambient Consulting has been profitable since day one, serving Global Fortune 1000 firms operating in the U.S. and Asia.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
No, because I’ve always been able to pivot, so if something doesn’t work, I like to think when confronted with an obstacle I’ve got two or three backup options in my head at all times. I’m the kind of guy who is always looking for new things to do. So, the idea of being dead-ended just isn’t part of my DNA.
How did you get your first customer?
I started out the business with a partner and he was the sales guy and I was the finance guy. We knew there was a demand for good software development, so we just started knocking on doors. We were focused on quality and service, so we came out of the shoot getting rapid results.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We have a sales force and we also have talent hunters/recruiters. And those people are out in the community all the time picking up ideas, networking with people, talking to our clients, and calling new clients. We employ a direct sales model and it’s been highly effective.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
We’re constantly developing new ideas in our incubator and we hire people to develop those to implement that. But sometimes we just have to call it quits on an idea and all those people have to go, and that’s very, very difficult. I try to re-employ them if I can, but I can’t always do it. I emotionally invest in people; terminating relationships has always been very difficult for me.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
The key to my success is setting a standard for hard work, doing my homework, engendering open and honest debate, rewarding great work and risk taking.
The key to my business success is to hire only the best people, set high expectations for professionalism, performance, and integrity. Compensate them fairly, treat them like grown-ups. We aim to make unique, world-class products and services.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My most satisfying experience in business is making the big sale. It is extremely difficult to find a customer and beat out the competition.
I also love working with my colleagues here, the exchange of good ideas, a certain amount of humor and playfulness. I enjoy creating an environment where creativity can flourish, which means being very attentive to people and giving them credit for their good ideas.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
I think the future of our business is unlimited. We are working on billion dollar ideas and creating new ways of conducting business in the digital era. The great thing about technology is every year there’s new technology, new things happening, and new ways of doing things.
What business books have inspired you?
“Unscaled: How AI and a New Generation of Upstarts Are Creating the Economy of the Future” by Hemant Taneja and “Art Collecting Today: Market Insights for Everyone Passionate about Art” by Doug Woodham.
I do read more articles these days than books. Harvard Business Review, Stanford Business, market surveys by subject matter experts such as McKinsey, by Deloitte and Accenture to name a few.
What is a recent purchase you have made that’s helped with your business?
We’re not a capital intensive business, we’re a people business. We’re a services and software business. So, we don’t buy a lot of equipment or anything like that. What we invest in is people. I will hire the best people to staff up on a new project and that can be very expensive. I always look for the best person out there and then I hold my breath and write the check knowing that it hurts up front, but the reward comes down the line.
What is your favorite part about your job?
I enjoy working with people and learning from them on both a personal and business level. I have a lot to learn so that well will never dry up.