20VC: Flexport’s Ryan Petersen: Reflections on Leadership from 13 Years Leading Flexport, Why Velocity not Speed is Most Important in Company Building, How Money Creates Inefficiencies in Scaling, The Future of Trade with China & Why Remote Work is so Challenging
Posted on 13th November 2023 by Harry
Ryan Petersen is Founder & CEO @ Flexport, a leader in global supply chain technology. In 2022, Flexport moved more than $26 billion of merchandise. Over the last 10 years, Ryan has raised close to $2.5BN for the business with the latest valuation pegging the business at $8BN. Prior to starting Flexport, Ryan was the founder and CEO of ImportGenius, a premier provider of transaction data for the global trade industry.
In Today’s Episode with Ryan Petersen We Discuss:
1. The Origins of a Generational Defining Leader:
What did Ryan want to be when he was growing up?
How did scooters and motorbikes in China lead to the idea for Flexport?
What does Ryan know now that he wishes he had known when he started Flexport?
2. Speed and Money: The Secrets To Execution:
Does Ryan believe speed is key to execution? What is the difference between speed and velocity?
What advice does Ryan have to founders who raise a lot of money? How should it impact hiring?
What are the most common ways founders become inefficient post-fundraising?
Why does Ryan look to invest in founders with jaded pasts and a chip on their shoulder?
3. The Art of Resource Allocation:
Are the best CEOs the best resource allocators?
What is the single best resource allocation Ryan has made? What did he learn?
What is the worst? What did he learn?
What have been Ryan’s biggest hiring mistakes? How did that change his approach?
4. The Wider World:
Is Ryan long or short on China? Why?
Will we see global trade become nationalized? Why?
Will we see interest rates raised further? What impact does that have on trade?
What has been the impact of war on trade and the shipping industry?
5. Ryan Petersen: The Father and Husband:
How has having kids changed how Ryan approaches leadership and management?
How does Ryan juggle 2 young kids and leading a 2,500 person company?
How does Ryan retain romance with his wife while also being a full-on CEO of a large co?
Does money make you happy? What does it help with? What does it not help with?