The Road to Reinvention: Mark Pydynowski
“I remember almost falling off my chair because it was just a complete lifeline that was being thrown to us.”
How do you reinvent your company? How do you reinvent yourself? And what can we learn if it doesn't happen?
Turns out, it’s hard to differentiate one cow from another—harder than you might have thought, in any case. And that idea was at the core of the company Mark Pydynowski formed, and the technology his firm was developing.
Investors seemed excited about his cow-identifying technology. Government regulators seemed excited. Then, some of the reality started to set in. The tech was reliable in a lab, but not in the field. The cattle industry was decidedly not excited about it. Narrow margins in the food industry didn’t favor the cost of the technology.
And suddenly, investors weren’t excited.
Their venture capital investor pushed back its closing date for a funding round — and the layoffs began. Then, Pydynowski’s firm had to pivot: As it turns out, it’s harder to identify one mouse from another than you might think. A new business plan emerged with upsides exactly where the cow-identifying version of the technology had downsides.
Mice are used in drug development where margins are bigger and budgets are huge. Mice have to be tracked properly to track the data, so the industry needed this tech. Working in cleanrooms and laboratory environments, the tech was more reliable. Plus, the tech was transferable—for tracking fish, artwork, inmates, for example.
“Every day I'm saying if we're not dead, we're still alive,” said Pydynowski, BSBA ’04. And now he has to re-sell everyone involved in the mouse version of the technology. And while that work was underway, the firm had difficulties with manufacturing the mouse ID hardware, requiring a 100% recall. Revenue was delayed, again. Pydynowski was fired.
How do you decide how to move forward after you’re fired? Do you make it easy or hard? Do you help the company and move on? What did Pydynowski learn along this bumpy road? How has he used it going forward? “The other F word”
This podcast is a production of Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School. Contributors include:
- Katie Wools, Cathy Myrick, Judy Milanovits and Lesley Liesman, creative assistance
- Jill Young Miller, fact checking and creative assistance
- Hayden Molinarolo, original music and sound design
- Mike Martin Media, editing
- Sophia Passantino, social media
- Lexie O'Brien and Erik Buschardt, website support
- Paula Crews, creative vision and strategic support
Special thanks to Ray Irving and his team at WashU Olin’s Center for Digital Education, including our audio engineer, Austin Alred.
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Download the podcast transcript (PDF)