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Audio: Founders of Carbonite, iRobot, CSN Stores and TripAdvisor talk about how they grew their companies

Posted by Scott Kirsner  March 8, 2011 09:04 PM

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I had the chance to moderate a panel this morning featuring the founders of some of Boston's most successful tech companies: iRobot (publicly-traded), TripAdvisor (most heavily-trafficked network of travel sites on the Internet), CSN Stores ($380 million in revenue last year), and Carbonite (fastest-growing IT services company of 2010, according to Inc. Magazine, and a possible IPO candidate in 2011 or 2012.) The panel was part of the Mass Technology Leadership Council's annual meeting, out in Waltham.

Among the topics we discussed:

- The moment when you thought your company might go under.

- The dumbest thing a prospective investor ever said about your business

- Biggest challenge to your company's growth right now

- How much hiring are you doing in 2011, and in what roles?

- Tough interview questions you ask, or challenges you present to candidates

- How you encourage innovation in small companies you acquire, or in far flung offices that you operate

We wrapped up by talking about marketing... including why Carbonite CEO David Friend grudgingly wrote a $1 million check to radio host Rush Limbaugh, and how comedian Dave Chapelle contributed to the success of iRobot's Roomba vaccuum cleaner — for free.

Secrets to Success: Inside Stories on Growth

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In the photo above are Stephen Kaufer, CEO and co-founder, TripAdvisor; iRobot CEO and co-founder Colin Angle; Carbonite CEO and co-founder David Friend; and Niraj Shah, CSN Stores CEO and co-founder. The audio was recorded on my iPhone, so it's listenable, but not the best panel recording you'll ever hear.

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Innovation and technology news that matters, on a new website from the Boston Globe, featuring Scott Kirsner and other original reporting.

About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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More from Scott


March 3: Web Innovators Group
Demos, drinks, and schmoozing at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge.

March 7-8: MassDigi Game Challenge
Competition for aspiring game developers... plus panels and keynotes related to the business of play.

April 3-4: Mass Biotech Annual Meeting
Issues facing the region's life sciences community.