Serial entrepreneur enjoys mentoring next generation of innovators and change makers
by Mary Denny
For a co-founder of a company that morphed from a small IT consulting practice into tech superstar Rackspace, Pat Condon has an unusual admission: “I don’t love technology for technology’s sake. I’m more interested in the practical application of it. Truth be told, I could be happy starting a business in all sorts of different categories, even ones having nothing to do with tech.”
That’s not to say he hasn’t enjoyed creating a wildly successful tech business. Despite Rackspace’s impressive growth—offices and data centers around the globe, taken public in 2008, then sold in 2017 for $4.3 billion—Pat says what he is proudest of is that “we built a place where people love coming to the office and doing their best work every day. I think that’s pretty rare and I can’t imagine building a company culture in a different way.”
Building things, taking them apart, and rebuilding them have long been a source of fascination for Pat. As a youngster he began with Lincoln Logs before moving on to Legos, then computers. “Computers always seemed the most interesting because you could actually make them do things beyond just configuring them differently,” he explains.
A native of San Francisco, Pat spent one year at Trinity before he transferred to Santa Clara University closer to his home where he earned a degree in finance. Yet it was his Trinity experience that has the defining impact upon his entrepreneurial career. “Trinity was great,” he says, “but the most important thing for me was that I met a ton of wonderful people that have become some of the most important people— both friends and business partners alike—in my life. I think Trinity has a unique ability to pull people together from all over the country and the world that have similar values and ambitions, and they are often people you wouldn’t run into in your everyday life.”
Although Pat began his post-graduate career at a boutique management-consulting firm in Palo Alto, within six months he realized it wasn’t for him. He decided to move back to San Antonio and join fellow Trinity classmate Dirk Elmendorf ‘97 and Richard Yoo '97 who were operating a small IT consulting practice that Yoo had started in his garage while still in college. Pat’s entrepreneurial instincts coupled with Dirk’s passion for the exploding IT field and Yoo’s tech savvy proved to be a winning coalition, and the rest, as they say...
Deeply appreciative of the many great mentors he had as a young entrepreneur, Pat says, “I’ve always felt like I needed to pay this gift forward.” Toward that end, he has been involved in a number of entrepreneurial boot camps like Tec Stars and 3-Day Startup and tech incubators like Geekdom. Well-known for his great fondness for helping young entrepreneurs, he also is deeply involved in Venturelab.org, a non-profit developed to help create the next generation of innovators and change-makers with a program that teaches children as young as kindergarten how to get into the entrepreneurial mindset and start a business. LocalSprout, which he co-founded, is a co-working space for local food entrepreneurs. LocalSprout also grows pesticide-free crops, usually hydroponically, in downtown San Antonio and at the Food Bank, among other initiatives. Pat also serves on the boards for and invests in a number of startups that benefit from his expertise and mentorship. Among them: TenFold, an enterprise SaaS company that helps service–oriented organizations use data to serve their customers better, and FreshBooks, cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals and their teams.
In addition to his many business ventures and volunteer commitments, Pat is an avid outdoorsman and tries to get away for a wilderness adventure whenever possible, “the more remote the better,” he says. “No cell phones, no city comforts...I’d rather sleep in a tent.”
Married with four children, Pat and his wife support a number of nonprofit organizations, most focused on initiatives that revolve around education and kids, and are enjoying jiu-jitsu as a new family activity. Cooking, especially comfort food, is another leisure time pursuit he enjoys. When traveling, he and his wife make a point of trying to take local cooking lessons to get a sense of the real way the locals eat.
NOTE: This spring, Pat and fellow Rackspace co-founder Dirk Elmendorf will headline the annual Trinity on Tour event in Washington, D.C., on April 21, 2018. In addition to delivering the keynote address, they will hold a moderated Q&A. Click here for details.
You can contact Pat at pat [at] condonoffice.com