Your Name: E. Kelly Fitzsimmons

Business Name: HarQen

Type of Business: High Tech

Business Location: United States

U.S. State: Wisconsin

Twitter @schnellerkeller

Reason for starting
HarQen is a 14-year overnight success story. In 1998, my co-founder asked a very insightful question: Why is it that you can easily share images, text and even video online – but not your voice? Voice is a transactional media – rarely captured and shared in any meaningful way. With our conversations, we keep our notes and throw away the actual conversation. Since our original insight, we have been thinking deeply about the question as to why voice was missing from the web in a meaningful and persistent way. Unlike other hypermedia, voice has remained unsearchable, unshareable, unloved – in its full resolution form.

How do you define success?
To quote my favorite movie, It’s a Wonderful Life: “no man is a failure who has friends.” I think that applies to business and life more broadly. I consider success to be Pyrrhic when the toll of family and friends proves too heavy and breaks our most important bonds. The financial reward cannot be high enough for me. I am always striving to incorporate my life into my business. When they stop meshing well, I make a change.

Biggest Success
Learning how to let go… whether it’s a cherished ideal, a self-understanding or a beloved position. Sometimes the best thing to do is to stop doing something.

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
My ego has always been my hardest task master. In my 20s, I beat myself up terribly against some kind of perfectionistic ideal. in my 30s, I eased up a bit, but quickly realized that I didn’t have the skills required for my position and dove headlong into a steep (sometimes brutal) learning curve. My forties have been about self-forgiveness. And now, finally, life is starting to get fun.

Who is your most important role model?
My father, Donald Baumgarter, is a very successful entrepreneur. If he hadn’t created a template for me of what success looks like, I don’t know if I would have come up with the idea of being an entrepreneur myself. It’s not like I studied to be an entrepreneur in college… I started out wanting to be an archaelogist. Oh well!