John Duffy is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience in communications and payment processing. At 3Cinteractive, John is responsible for setting corporate strategy, driving revenue, and helping to maintain the company’s key relationships with customers and vendors. Prior to co-founding 3Ci, John built several successful companies in various industries. John lives in Delray Beach, Florida, with his wife and two daughters.
Sramana: John, tell us about your background. Where are you from? What path did you take to become an entrepreneur?
John Duffy: I was born in Hammond, Indiana. My father was an FBI agent. We moved approximately every two years, so I have lived in several locations throughout the Midwest and the Northeast. I went to school at Ohio University and graduated around the time that my father was retiring from the FBI.
I called him up and gave him career advice. He was going through a tough time trying to think about what should come next for him because he was still relatively young. He told me that the only thing he knew for sure was that I would not be an FBI agent.
I came to Florida because my college roommate had moved down here to live with his brother, and his brother said it would be OK if I slept on the floor as well. That was in 1988. I have been here ever since, and it is the first place where I have actually had any roots.
Sramana: What sort of jobs did you end up working in the early days of your career?
John Duffy: When I first got to Florida I had just graduated. It was August, and I got a job working for UPS unloading trucks and making deliveries during Christmas. I can tell you that it was the hardest job I have ever had. After that I got a job as a sales rep working for MCI Communications. At the time, it was a great job. MCI was partially owned by IBM, and I was told it would be a great place for professional development and to get an education. It was a place where I thought I would learn how to become a technology account executive. That was exactly the case. Some of the most influential individuals I have known in my career are people whom I worked for or had as customers when I was at MCI.
I really felt like I was helping the communications business in the United States become competitive for the first time. I worked at MCI into the mid-1990s. I had a customer who was one of the early providers of interactive voice response services, and the owner of that company was a serial entrepreneur. He was a very large MCI customer, and managing his account was my only responsibility. I eventually left MCI to work for him, and he took me under his wing. I learned a lot from him even while I was at MCI, but working for him was my first exposure to what it was like to work outside a big company. He helped me to develop my other skills. He taught me the basics of business planning and finance. When I had thoughts about and the inspiration to become an entrepreneur, he was the one who helped me get there.