How Rhonda Dibachi Made Selective Sneering the Key to Success at HeyScottie
Rhonda Dibachi is co-founder and CEO of HeyScottie, a national manufacturing platform for RFQs that is data and AI-driven for speed, flexibility and quality. She is also a former Ernst/Young Manufacturing Quality Analyst, Architect for Oracle Manufacturing Testing Applications and started her career as a nuclear engineer.
Prior to this she co-founded and was CFO of Noribachi, a US-based lighting OEM. Noribachi was a leading US manufacturer of high brightness LED lighting products for the commercial and industrial markets.
Before Noribachi, Rhonda was the co-founder of Niku Corporation, a Silicon Valley Professional Services Automation (PSA) software provider that created the first comprehensive suite of enterprise management applications for project and human resource intensive organizations. Rhonda helped take Niku public in 1999 in an IPO lead by Goldman Sachs (NASDAQ: NIKU). The company was later acquired by Computer Associates.
Earlier, Rhonda was an executive for Webvan, the pioneer online grocery store where she was Director of Quality Assurance. She worked for the Oracle Corporation for seven years where she held a number of positions in the Business Applications Division, including Director of Testing and Development Manager and Architect for Oracle’s Manufacturing Applications. Rhonda began her career at Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young) as a manufacturing consultant implementing JIT, TQC, and other manufacturing process improvements at large manufacturing companies, and at GE as a nuclear power plant test engineer.
The Importance of Selective Sneering
By definition, an entrepreneur tries something different. “Different” means that some people will be threatened and challenged; and that is not what people like to be!
When the manufacturing company she co-founded first started selling industrial LED lights back in 2010, they were appalled at how the existing lighting industry was such a laggard at adopting LED technology. They introduced the first LED light engine that could replace a 1000W industrial floodlight.
Their solution was ridiculed by the biggest names in the business. But their was the technologically superior product. And after a while, they just didn’t listen to their criticism. The haters gotta hate – they reasoned – and they say the idea was stupid, wrong, and too expensive.
Their criticism was painful and for their own sanity, and to keep going, she learned to shut out all the negativity, and to laugh at the luddites who were not interested in their idea.
t’s a simple mantra: “they don’t get it, we alone have the answer.” This mantra is a useful tool and every successful entrepreneur she know exhibits this attitude. She calls it the Silicon Valley Sneer.
Along with the sneer comes the arrogance. Imagine being an AI entrepreneur and trying to raise a round today. Sure, there’s lots of $$$ available and VCs are falling all over themselves to get in on the action. But you’ve got to compete and differentiate yourself from the other “jokers” who are competing for the same check.
You will absolutely positively be more successful if you can diss the other guy on the way to the top, she said.
“They don’t get it, we alone have the answer” mantra is reinforced! The sneer ignores idiots, and luddites and competitors. These are the enemy and they will be vanquished!
This “not invented here” sneer is so practiced, so much a part of the entrepreneur’s persona, that even legitimate, useful, and even kindly-meant feedback is ignored out of hand.
The sneer will take you far, but if you shut out legitimate criticism, your idea will die. The sneer cannot ignore competitive factors, it cannot ignore changing political climates. You have to react to the world.
She got caught up with the sneer. After going to a lighting trade show where they were clearly the outstanding offering, she just didn’t listen to criticism. This turned out to be a mistake when the rest of the industry eventually caught up to them. The critics leapfrogged them and they never really recovered in that segment.
She hopes she has learned that lesson! She is a different type of entrepreneur than she was back in her lighting days. She is now eager to interact, especially with salespeople! She requests lots of demos of software that she does not intend to purchase or replace. She goes to lots of conferences that she expects to hear from a lot of useless windbags. She tres to read competitors’ newsletters religiously. She seeks out feedback from potential investor types, people who she knows are lemmings, couldn’t engineer their way out of a paper bag, and don’t have an ethical bone in their body.
As a result, her offering is better than any she could have engineered back in her lighting days. It’s a stronger company, and she is a stronger, selectively sneering CEO.
If you would like to get in touch with Rhonda Dibachi or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page