BTM Global Turns 15: A Look Back

Tom and Andy celebrating BTM’s 5th anniversary in 2009.

As BTM Global celebrates its 15-year anniversary this month, we’ve spent some time looking back at our beginnings and the lessons, partnerships and people that made us who we are today. We sat down with our founder and CTO, Andy Huynh, as well as CEO and President Tom Schoen to learn more about BTM’s beginnings and journey. You can also check out this brief video to find out more about our unique origins.

Andy, you were the founder of BTM. What gave you the spark to start a company?
I could see that Oracle Retail wasn’t getting quality, consistent service from its system integrator partners – especially in the Business Intelligence space. I knew that my approach to the work and to creating a company culture was different from the approach of other Oracle Retail partners, so I decided to start something on my own.

You were working with Tom Schoen at the time. Why did you ask him to join your new company?
I had known Tom for many years and trusted him. His leadership approach and his experience with delivery and operations made him a good choice. Plus, his skills complemented mine perfectly.

Tom, did you have any reservations about leaving your job and joining Andy’s new venture?
Andy wanted to set up a team in Vietnam to work alongside our Minneapolis-based team, and both teams would service U.S. clients. I was hesitant about that arrangement, but only because I was ignorant of the changes happening in Vietnam, like their membership in the WTO [World Trade Organization] that required them to meet standards around IP protection, etc.

We talked about me joining BTM for a while and I finally had to make a decision. So I committed to joining Andy for one year in order to get BTM off the ground. At that point, if BTM wasn’t viable, I would leave. But after a few months, I never looked back. It all still seems like it happened yesterday.

How does Andy’s skillset complement yours?
Simply put, Andy is smarter than me technically. But with my delivery and operations experience, and Andy’s technical abilities, we fit perfectly together. I focused my time talking with CIOs and senior delivery people, and Andy would impress the hell out of the technical teams. This two-front approach is what made BTM successful.

Did either of you have any early wins that gave you a boost of confidence or opened your eyes to what you could accomplish?
Travelocity was the first big opportunity that really launched BTM to the next level. Another event is when we landed NEXCOM; that government contract during the 2008-2009 recession was instrumental in keeping BTM alive.

What has been some of your biggest learnings in the last 15 years?
First, when you work for someone else, you can focus on one or two problems and just solve those. But when you’re running your own business, you have 15 to 20 problems and not all of them are in your comfort zone. We’re both engineers, and together we figured out how to solve a multitude of problems.

Our second big learning is always keeping a positive attitude; always look for ways to fix things and move forward.  Both of us have these qualities and have fine-tuned them over the years.

If you could go back 15 years and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Listen to all advice, but don’t jump to solutions without researching it more.  The first idea isn’t always the best one.

What makes you excited about the future of BTM?
We (the collective BTM we) have built a great company and look forward to growing it to the next level.  It’s so much fun to have an outstanding team that can help you see things you didn’t see before and offer ideas that you wouldn’t have thought of before. This exploration and expansion is what makes this so much fun.

Looking back over 15 years, what are you most proud of?
We are most proud of the people we work with and the culture we work in. We’ve learned that company culture is key to building a successful company, and both of us have been in lock-step with each other on that.

BTM has the best people, culture, clients and future, which makes it easy to come to work every day.  In many ways, BTM has achieved the culture, diversity, and work ethic that many companies still struggle with.  BTM’s “normal” is a great example of how great a company can be for everyone.