The first thing you notice about Theresa Szczurek is how cheerful she is.And rightfully so. She’s been a multimillionaire since she sold her first company, Radish Communications Systems, for $40 million in 1996 — a quick six years after she and her husband started it.
She’s now on her second startup, also called Radish Systems, which is growing fast and winning awards.
She’s what anyone would call an over-achiever (two masters degrees and a PhD).
But what we love about Szczurek’s story isn’t so much the cool tech she’s building with Radish (though it is cool — and we’ll get to that in a sec) but the philosophy that got her there.
After she sold the first Radish, she wrote a best-selling book about her experience called “The Pursuit of Passionate Purpose.“ It shows people how to follow their inner glee to find success.
“Passion produces prosperity,” she says. “I interviewed 80 people and found that what brings meaning and success are these two things: contribution and connection,” she says.
People need to feel like their work is meaningful and helpful. People also need to feel like they are connected to the best parts of themselves and to a community.
Those things will “light your fire” and will keep it burning as you go through the ups and downs in your life and career. “It helps you feel more engaged and innovative, which is beneficial both to the company and the individual,” she explains.
Szczurek and her husband Richard Davis started their careers at Bell Labs. Their passion for communication tech drove her to recreate Radish again (they were able to buy the name back) in Boulder, CO. Boulder is the warm-fuzziest place to launch a startup in the U.S., and a gorgeous place to live, too, if you can afford it (Szczurek can).
The first Radish was for the modem. It let data be transmitted during an ordinary phone call. It was licensed by Microsoft and others and became part of Windows.
The new Radish is doing the same thing for smartphones. It’s a cloud app that allows data, images and video to be transferred during a phone call. It is sold to companies with call centres.
Here’s how it works: At the call centre, an agent is on the phone with a customer and the agent and drags and drop a photo, diagram, or video into the caller’s window and that customer can see that information. It’s good for sales, technical help, anything where an agent wants to share visual info with the caller.
The new Radish is still an early-stage company, with nine employees and hoping to announce a $3 million Series A round soon. But it looks to be on its way. It just landed a deal with a big Cisco reseller named SPS and it has also racked up a number of innovation awards.