Entrepreneur Landing Page
Sign In Search

'Becoming a Unicorn Is Really Just the Beginning' Leadership Lessons From Tech CEO Godard Abel On this episode of "The CEO Series," G2 co-founder and CEO Godard Abel discusses his "never-stop-climbing" approach to business.

By William Salvi

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I am on a mission to meet and pick the brains of some of the most successful and innovative leaders in business. On this episode of The CEO Series, we went to the headquarters of G2 in Chicago, a software marketplace and review platform that has raised $257 million at a valuation of over a billion dollars, which makes them a unicorn.

Godard Abel, G2's co-founder and CEO, sat down with me to share his perspective and philosophy on leadership — what it takes to manage the health of the business, engagement of employees, expectations of stakeholders and so much more.

Related: Inside Potbelly's Recipe for Fast Casual Success

Abel previously built cloud CPQ pioneers BigMachines (which was acquired by Oracle) and SteelBrick (which was acquired by Salesforce) so his insights are invaluable to anyone hoping to launch and go big. Below are some highlights from our conversation, which have been edited for length and clarity. Watch the full video above.

The realities of achieving a unicorn status

"It was an amazing milestone. We had an amazing party. I loved becoming a unicorn. But then you wake up the next day, and you're committed to giving at least three times that back to your investors. We raised $157 million that first round, so really we have to give them about $500 million back. So it's a big commitment as a founder and CEO. It's really the beginning of your next journey that hopefully ends with a successful public offering that gives those investors at least three times their money back — hopefully much more. But it's many years of work to get to that next peak. It feels great, but it's also a commitment to getting to that next peak."

Related: With Over $120 Million in Sales, Dude Wipes Is No Joke. Here's How the Company's Chief Executive Dude Keeps Things Fun and Profitable.

His entrepreneurial beginnings

"My first business was in high school. I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was called Ultimate Car Care and I started with my best friend at the time, Joe. His dad had a nice red Corvette. We had prom coming up, so we took a picture in nice tuxedos in front of this Corvette. We wanted to do detailing for fancy cars, so we used the photo to make fliers with our phone number on it and that's how we launched. I was born in Germany into a family of entrepreneurs. My father took over a family business from my grandfather who I always admired. My grandfather started the company in Germany in 1947, two years after WWII. He did it in the industrial part of Northwest Germany, which had gotten bombed to rubble. And I always think about that when I am facing struggles. I think wow, it's nothing like those struggles."

Related: Avoid These 3 Key Mistakes for Team Success in 2024

What drives him

"I think almost all entrepreneurs go through failure. Usually, you struggle for years. For almost every successful entrepreneur I meet, it comes down to this: don't quit, keep going. And that also applies after you've begun to find success. We talk about our 'peak culture' at G2. I do think we're meant as humans to be climbing peaks. And so in that sense, I never want to stop climbing. I've had good breaks and I probably could retire and just sit on the beach. But I don't believe I would feel gratified. And frankly, I don't think any human would. I think we're meant to strive, we're meant to climb, we're meant to have a purpose. And I think entrepreneurship really gives that to me."

Check out more profiles of innovative and impactful leaders by visiting The CEO Series archives.

William Salvi

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Producer & Host of The CEO Series | Salvi

William Salvi is executive producer at Salvi, an executive communications and content strategy agency. He hosts the Emmy Award-winning video series The CEO Series. Each episode profiles a business leader and their respective business and provides a humanizing look into the CEO's personal story.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

More from The CEO Series

The CEO of Catholic Prayer and Meditation App Hallow Says Founders Need to Be Part of Something Bigger Than Themselves

How Personal Passions Fuel Business Success for the CEO of Vivid Seats

'Becoming a Unicorn Is Really Just the Beginning' Leadership Lessons From Tech CEO Godard Abel

Inside Potbelly's Recipe for Fast Casual Success

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Science & Technology

The 'Mother of All Breaches' Just Happened — Here's the Security Implications for Businesses

If your business exists online, chances are some percent of your customers' data got leaked in what cybersecurity specialists boldly labeled as the "mother of all breaches" (MOAB).

Business News

Klarna Says Its AI Assistant Does the Work of 700 People. The Company Laid Off the Same Number of Employees 2 Years Ago.

The AI bot has taken on 75% of Klarna's customer service chats, or about 2.3 million conversations, within a month of launch.

Business News

The Owner of a Popular Boston Restaurant Is Under Fire After Direct Messaging, Berating a Customer Who Disputed $250 Cancelation Fee

New York-based traveler Trevor Chauvin-DeCaro was set to dine at Table in Boston's North End last month.

Side Hustle

Getting Laid Off Allowed Him to Focus on His Sentimental Side Hustle. Now He's on Track to Earn Over $700,000 in 2024.

Alaa El Ghatit wasn't fulfilled at his day job. So he started LifeOnRecord to help people record memories and well wishes.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.