Meet Our MentorsNetwork

Meet Our Mentors: Martin Low

By March 28, 2018 No Comments

One of the main support services of Endeavor is access to mentorship. The Endeavor Louisville mentors are key to the success of our organization, which is why we want you to get to know them better. Please meet CEO of On Plane Consulting and Endeavor Louisville mentor, Martin Low!

Martin holds a BA in Economics and an MA in Human Resource Management from the University of Illinois.  He has 18 years of experience in leadership roles helping companies like Amazon, Blue Apron, McKesson and Cummins lower costs and increase revenue by effectively setting and executing Human Resource strategies.  Martin excels at building a culture which supports faster, more consistent execution and growth.

Martin started On Plane Consulting in 2017 after seeing the lack of Human Resource support in small to mid-sized companies.  On Plane fills the need for HR outsourcing and strategy.  This allows company leaders to focus on their core competencies and scale faster.

What is the most important characteristic of an entrepreneur?  Grit.  When you start out, a lot of decisions won’t go your way.  You have to believe in your concept, flex to meet your goals, and keep moving forward.

What’s the biggest business challenge you have faced and how did you overcome it?  When I worked at Amazon, it was still run more like a startup than a billion-dollar company. They did not have a strong HR function, which resulted in a lack of HR processes and tools – and a ton of frustration from Operations leaders.  I had to quickly learn the business and build credibility with a team who did not see HR as a partner.  This required taking risks and putting processes in place that did not fail. I spent about half my time convincing stakeholders the value of what I was doing and the other half helping Operations apply HR principles to what they did day-to-day.  This resulted in a framework where HR processes supported Operations, not Operations supporting HR.  Finding ways to fit HR around the business was the key to this.

What’s the best advice you have ever given?  I took a family survey for this one.  According to my wife, Caroline it is, “Know your strengths and personal values.” There are many things we are capable of doing, but not many we will enjoy doing, and thus do at our best.  Your strengths and values help define what you enjoy and will be best at.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?  “I can have anything I am willing to work for.” When I was in third grade, I asked my dad if I could have a bike.  He couldn’t afford to buy one but told me “Yes.”  He then said I could have anything I was willing to work for.  To my disappointment, he explained that he was not going to buy the bike.  I got a paper route the next month and later bought the bike with my own money.  The concept that I could have what I was willing to work for has driven me ever since.

What do you think Louisville does well as a startup ecosystem?  I think people here are accessible.  Everyone wants to see you succeed and will take time to help you.  We have a strong workforce at a lower price point than what is available on the coasts.  Quality of life here is excellent.

Biggest areas of opportunity for Louisville to better support entrepreneurs?   The biggest difference I see between Silicon Valley, Manhattan and Louisville is that we don’t think big enough.  “Think Big” is a leadership principle I was first exposed to at Amazon, which they define as: Think Big: Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.

“Thinking Big” happens en masse on the coasts.  We need to push entrepreneurs to think bigger here.  “Thinking Big” changes how investors approach their investment strategy and how E-Teams set company/people strategy.  Companies here are growing but I don’t see many companies here setting up for massive scale over a five-year horizon.  This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy which limits their growth.  When opportunities to scale companies don’t exist in Louisville, the talent we need to achieve that scale goes to other markets.

What excites you about Endeavor Louisville?  I spent last year flying in and out of Manhattan and San Francisco.  The workforce in the Louisville area is more excited to be a part of an early stage company and more willing to stay there than those in innovation hot spots.  I think this is a huge advantage for companies here.  There are also highly talented people who want to be here but don’t think there is opportunity.  Endeavor gives our companies and people a world stage to shine on.  This exposure draws in like-minded people, which is a critical catalyst to build an ecosystem of entrepreneurs in Louisville.

Do you have a fun fact that can’t be found on Google?  I once went glider stunt flying.  The glider is like a small plane, but it is unpowered and towed up by another plane.  Once you release the tow line, it’s a surreal experience to be 15,000 ft in the air without any engine power or noise.  The pilot I went with specialized in glider stunts – it was the best rollercoaster I have ever been on.