They’re the questions on everyone’s lips. Who is Jill Stelfox? What’s in her background that makes her perfect to run Panzura? And, how did she end up with 17,800 Twitter followers?
We grabbed a few minutes with Jill to ask all the burning questions 🔥
Q: Jill - you ran a large organization at Zebra Technologies and worked with the NFL for years. Tell us about your tech background?
A: My background in tech started with creating three venture capital-backed enterprise software companies. We actually built one of the first mobile middleware products used in the enterprise. Prior to coming to Panzura, I had raised $50M in venture and successfully exited these companies returning more than $1B to investors and employees.
In 2013 the NFL was looking to deliver the first in the world league-wide player tracking system. It needed to be able to gather tracking data 25 times a second, deliver it to broadcast in 120 milliseconds and drive everything from status in the stadiums, stats on air (regardless of network), data to sponsor partners for in-game use, and much more.
We partnered with the NFL to create customized hardware, software and analytics that have become Next Gen Stats, which we see live in every football game worldwide. It’s a huge part of the game.
Crazy fact -- I actually have a few patents to my name around how data is moved, shared, and computed across a cloud environment.
While I have delivered many different tech solutions over the years, because of the visible nature of Next Gen Stats and the NFL, it is the most demonstrable of my accomplishments.
Q: So wait - you hold a couple of patents, tell me more?
A: Actually, I hold 6 patents, with another one pending. I have always been at the nexus of cutting edge technology and customer value -- fancy words for “doing cool stuff and making clients happy”. Often my team and I have been the first ones to solve these tough technology challenges. These patents have a bit of overlap in the hardware and software space where Panzura plays.
Q: Panzura’s new owners Profile Capital Management seem to keep a fairly low profile themselves - what can you tell us about them?
A: Profile is unique in the venture capital space because it’s a vehicle for the Chereskins' private, family wealth to invest in awesome IT opportunities. If you do a Google search for Ben Chereskin’s net worth, you’ll see what I mean. What you won’t see though, is that he is one of the original technology nerds!
Not only does Profile not have the time constraints that other venture or private equity firms have, where you need to exit within 10 years, but they can choose to work with a select portfolio that they 100% personally believe in -- doing only 4-5 deals per year. Or sometimes none.
In this case, Ben waited more than 5 years for a tech platform opportunity like Panzura to emerge.
BTW, some of the names of their other companies include AMI (Advanced Micro Instruments), Expel, and Feddata.
Q: What insight can you give us into your personal philosophy, when it comes to doing business?
A: If I could bring it down to one thing, it’s that core values MATTER. The way we treat people, the way we behave, whether we tell the truth - have integrity, whether we behave fairly or not - all make an outsized difference to the results we get.
When we win, it’s because we’ve boosted and empowered an entire team of talented, gutsy people who do what they do, better than anyone else. When a customer chooses to work with us, being accountable to their success is our obligation.
Look, as a company you can choose to have a slimy culture -- or you can choose to do the right thing by your team, your customers, and the market. It’s certainly not easy to do -- but it’s how you consistently build products that customers really care about.
Q: What’s your superpower?
A: I have a knack for matching a business product with a market and creating value for customers, the company itself, its shareholders, and its employees. Delivering awesome solutions that add real value to leading customers, who are changing the world in their given markets, is what drives me.
And, I’m VERY competitive. I love crafting the process for winning - not just the win itself. So for me, the day-to-day work of boosting the company, the customers we serve and our people is what really matters.
Q: Ok, that’s a quick look into Jill Stelfox the entrepreneur and CEO. Tell us a bit about Jill Stelfox the person…
A: I’m a mom of 2 adult kids and now have one grandson, who obviously is the cutest and best baby ever! My husband and I live in a beautiful town called San Luis Obispo in California with our 2 enormous Malamute dogs Frejya and Cessna.
What I am most proud of is being one of the OG founders of Women in Sports Tech, a non-profit organization aimed at changing the ratio of women in tech rolls in the sports space. Through my work there we have raised significant donations from the likes of IBM, Nike, and the NBA. We have been able to place dozens of women in key roles within sports tech and are making a huge impact.
Q: How did you end up with 17,800 Twitter followers?
A: Isn’t that crazy? When you create super cool technology with a world-class organization like the NFL, people follow you. Net/net - who doesn’t want to know what the head football geek is up to?!?
The awesome thing is they follow me now because of Women in Sports Tech. The amazing adventures and access we provide for technology-focused women is so cool, and I am honored that my Twitter followers support me in my passion.