Focus: Is 'Hands-On Consultant' an Oxymoron
Thanks to an introduction by a mutual friend, entrepreneur William Rouhana has world-class management for his telecommunications start-up, and Nate Kantor has the consulting job of his dreams. Last February Rouhana, a former merchant banker who invested in telecommunications, acquired Federal Communications Commission licenses that will enable him to deliver wireless services to the nation's top 28 cities -- encompassing a market of 108 million people. "It's an unusual set of licenses that provide us plenty of opportunity to grow a big business -- several hundred million dollars plus," says a pleased Rouhana. Realizing that building such a business was not a one-person job, he set about locating a rare commodity: a telecommunications expert with "both entrepreneurial and large-firm experience." He found it in Nate Kantor, an 18-year veteran of MCI who had helped steward the long-distance carrier from a start-up to a giant with annual revenues in excess of $12 billion.
In June Rouhana's company, WinStar Telecommunications Group, in New York City, announced a two-year agreement with the ITC Group, Kantor's telecommunications consulting firm. The deal provides the consultant with both short-term and long-term incentives, in the form of professional fees and stock options. Kantor's job? "We will plan, build, and run the business, and hire, train, and develop its infrastructure. I'm not just looking to hustle bodies as a consultant," he says. He admits that it takes a brave CEO to grant a consultant such hands-on responsibility, but he also adds, "There's no glory in stepping on the same land mines twice." Rouhana is convinced that the arrangement brings him talent and experience that a start-up ordinarily wouldn't be able to afford. "It lets us hit the ground running at a much lower cost," he says.* * *