Chasing Disruption: Terry Graunke's 40-Year Journey in Management

Joe speaks with Terry Graunke, Chairman and Founder of Erie Street, about his extensive management and investment career. He has led over 40 businesses: founding, growing, selling and listing them, all within disruptive industries.

Terry talks about founding his first business, Omni-graphics, stumbling upon, then harnessing data to disrupt direct marketing, scaling and then selling to Omnicom. 

Terry then moved into the operator/investor role within the Hawthorne Group, before starting Lake Capital and ultimately the creation of Erie Street, a business services investment firm focusing on operational orientation and family office money.

The podcast delves into Terry's emphasis on human capital, the importance of connections, and the role of curiosity and serendipity in success. Terry also discusses the significance of company values like kindness, curiosity, and courage in guiding daily activities and long-term value creation.

Terry discusses his involvement across various industries, including forensic accounting with Huron Consulting Group, web development with Eagle River, and the recent impact of AI on the market. He shares insights on balancing investor partnerships and fostering a patient investor base to focus on sustainable growth rather than short-term sales.

Joe and Terry also touch upon the challenges and opportunities in navigating regulatory landscapes, particularly with AI, and the overall evolution of the business landscape.


04:52 Terry’s first start up in direct marketing 

06:59 Seeking self-confidence, adaptability, and resourcefulness despite challenges.

13:00 How technology for cruise lines was a catalyst for e-commerce

19:58 The business opportunity Terry saw after Enron brought down Arthur Andersen.

28:00 The evolution of private equity, why Terry founded Erie Street and how it is different

35:04 Underwriting deals, hitting milestones, recapitalising for growth.

45:12 Investor worries about cybersecurity and future impact

Podcast video clips

Video 1: The opportunity of AI 


Video 2: Why Terry only invests in service companies


Video 3:  How Eagle River became one of the first web development companies