Faith and profit are not mutually exclusive: an interview

Faith and profit are not mutually exclusive: an interview June 28, 2015

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By Bill Peel

Henry Kaestner is Chairman of Sovereign Capital, an investment firm he co-founded in 2011 that focuses on early growth-stage companies with exceptional growth potential in expanding markets, especially Southeast Asia.

Previously he served as CEO of Bandwidth.com, a communications technology company he co-founded with David Morken. Under their leadership, Bandwidth’s revenue grew from $0 to $200 million without acquisition or institutional funding and was the fourth fastest growing privately-held company in the U.S. from 2003 through 2007.

Kaestner co-founded and serves as Chairman of the Board of DurhamCares and he holds leadership positions on boards at both the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the North Carolina Central University School of Business. He serves an elder in the Presbyterian Church of America and lives in Durham, NC with his wife and three sons.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Henry about his faith and the success of Bandwidth.

BP: When people think of Bandwidth, what do you hope comes to mind?

HK: I would like for people to think of Bandwidth as a company that’s led by folks who very much want to get out and compete and innovate for God’s glory. I’d like them to know that it’s led by guys who aren’t bashful about talking about why they do what they do. I also want them to know that Bandwidth has had huge success in helping customers unlock remarkable value from their telecom solutions and their telecom service. On the business side, we’ve helped companies innovate and create their own products and services.

We want to be able to free up our customers from the tyranny of the legacy telecom providers who charge way too much money for young families that want to have mobile communications.

BP: Bandwidth is known for its unique culture. What does that look like and how did you create it?

HK: Our culture is based first on faith, then family, then work ethic, and fitness. It comes from the way David Morken and I set up the company from day one. I remember David saying, “Look if we are going to be intentional about our corporate culture, it needs to mirror who we are as individuals.” I was a new believer at the time. I came to faith in 1998, and this conversation happened in 2000. I said, “Well we want to be all about our relationship with God first. That’s the most important thing, and we wanted it to undergird everything we did.

Second, we wanted to create an atmosphere that allowed employees to lead and serve their families well. David has six kids, and I have three. We knew early on that with young families, we wanted to be home during dinnertime, bath time, bedtime, and reading stories. After the kids were down, we’d still have plenty of time to dial back in and get work done—but it wouldn’t come at the expense of quality family time.

Our third priority is work and the fourth is fitness. So that’s the culture that was established. Today, out of 430 employees, probably two-thirds of them work out every day at lunch. That’s a big part of employee morale and camaraderie.

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