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46 Labs CEO featured in ValiantCEO

The story of 46 Labs is also the story of one CEO’s journey. Trevor Francis is a leading authority on connectivity infrastructures.

He is the founder and CEO of 46 Labs, has built voice and data networks on four continents, and has multiple decades of experience developing cutting-edge digital transformation solutions for large enterprises and service providers. It’s a massive pedigree, but it’s born of passion.

Connectivity and communication are the bedrock of our progress. As we’ve moved from landline phones to cellular data and beyond, how we connect and the ease with which we communicate are essentials of contemporary life.

Whether helping operations teams combine network hardware following mergers and acquisitions or migrating enterprise customers to an entirely new carrier network, 46 Labs turn messy network infrastructure into layers that work together cohesively.

Global businesses need their employees to connect internally and with their customers seamlessly and securely. What better way to communicate with customers than through voice and messaging? That is why Trevor Francis started 46 Labs. Getting there, however, was anything but easy.

After studying MIS at the University of Oklahoma and finance at Harvard University, Francis saw a drastic need for connectivity in developing countries. Francis began his telecom career by helping push-to-talk (PTT) services in developing countries to modernize their infrastructure.

His success in those engagements led to management agreements to operate those networks on behalf of the operators. 11 years later, 46 Labs is still going strong.

Francis’ telecom experience started in the jungles of Central America. In his twenties, he fixed reliability issues with rural phone networks in Honduras. Francis says he was naive enough to take the assignment and quickly learned how international business worked.

That experience led him to Africa and eventually back to the United States. Francis was thrown into the pool’s deep end early by solving complex multi-national network issues. He has since drawn on that experience to develop software that solves many of the same problems for global service providers and enterprises.

“Launching a bootstrapped organization is not for the faint of heart. It’s like trying to thread a needle while sitting on the hood of a car going 100 miles an hour toward a brick wall,” said Francis. “The odds of success aren’t great, and I was lucky enough to thread that needle with 46 Labs.”

When asked about the key to his success, Francis says he owes it all to adaptability. He has built an adaptable family and business through listening, observing, and experimenting.

Francis believes adaptability is the key to maintaining business success because he sees opportunity in change. Technology changes, markets change, trends change, and culture changes, but all of these changes bring new opportunities, and opportunity is what fuels businesses, regardless of industry.

Easier said than done. Francis’ story points to a core practice that doesn’t change even if the technology, the idea, or the conditions do. Being open to change and able to work within it isn’t simple, but it’s required.

From that skill, take action, and seek opportunities to navigate change. Francis’ advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs is one thing: say “yes “to everything.

By taking risks early on and learning what they love to do, young entrepreneurs will quickly learn what they enjoy doing and what they can make a career out of. Through problem-solving, constant adaptation, and experimentation, those who are looking for success will find it.

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