Interview with Douglas Rice

1. How has your career path changed up until now?
I started in one industry that I had skills in but didn't do as a career, and left it after nine months. I then found a career that I was interested in, that lasted about six or seven years. When the time was right, I decided to go back and go to business school and open up new horizons for myself. After that, I landed in the travel industry, in marketing, and kind of evolved from that into airlines and hotels, moving from marketing and marketing technology into other technologies. With this knowledge, I founded a trade association in technology. There was always a commonality with what I'd done before, but if you look at where I ended up versus where I started, it was totally different.

2. Did you have a mentor who helped you get to where you are now? If so, what would you say is the most important thing you learned from your mentor?
I would say there were several people who had influence, there was no one person that had that level of influence. There was one who was a mentor to me, in many ways that probably did move me more significantly, into where I was at the end of my career. Interestingly enough, he and I both viewed each other as mentors to each other. It was not just him mentoring me, but he viewed me as his mentor as well. With that, we both learned a lot from each other and we adapted a lot because of that.

3. What advice would you give to those pursuing their first business venture?
Yes, there’s something that I wish that I had taken into account earlier on, but I didn't internalize it as much as I needed to. That is to network network network, and meet people. What you know is who you know, not to say that what you know isn't important, but you can't leverage that without a network. Find people who have done similar things and engage them to help guide you and offer feedback. You should listen to all of their advice, of course you don't have to take their advice, but you need to really listen to it. These are people who have experience that you don't have. I think particularly when you're young and starting out you tend to think you know everything, and you don't. You won't realize how much there is that you don't know until later in your career. The last thing I'd say is to set realistic, intermediate-term goals. If you can't achieve them, change your course. You don't want to stick to a strategy that isn't working. You need to be kind of disciplined about that because you'll always think that you can still make it work. You may put off the necessary actions until it's too late.

4. How do you overcome risk when it comes to making business decisions?
I don't think you overcome risk, you deal with it. Risk is always there. You can’t overcome it, but you can overcome the consequences of a particular risk in some cases. I think the way you deal with it is you always have to have a plan B, you have to identify what are your potential risks and what you will do if they come to pass. Are there any things you can do to reduce the likelihood that they will come to pass? Is it worth doing those things? There's not a single answer here, it's a matter of always thinking two to three steps ahead. Have a pretty good idea of how you're going to deal with those what-ifs.

5. Why did you decide to become a mentor/ investor for the Hospitality Innovation Hub Incubator?
I enjoy hearing new business ideas, and I’m always looking for interesting new companies and people. Part of it is just a passion, I want to find companies that can improve the industry that I've worked in. I focused primarily on the hospitality industry, so when I work with incubators and mentoring companies they're usually companies that have some sort of tie to the travel industry. It's always good to meet people who are up and coming, and even if the venture that they're working on right now doesn't take off, maybe the next one will. The entrepreneurial spirit is always there, and those people are good to have in your network.

Douglas Rice