A Conversation with Mike Algrim, Director of Commercial Banking for First National Bank, about growing up in St. Charles, what lights him up about entrepreneurial growth, and his prediction on a cashless society.
You attended St. Charles High School. What is something you learned growing up that you employ today in business?
The core value is having fewer but deeper relationships. For example, I’m not a proud 500+ LinkedIn person. It’s not how many, it’s who I know and trust and who is in my inner circle — that is far more important when we are being blasted every day with social media.
You volunteer as vice president of the Fox Valley Entrepreneurial Center. Why is this important to you?
The Fox Valley Entrepreneurial Center is the premier business accelerator for Fox Valley, supporting business generally less than $2 million.
We have quarterly pitch competitions. We gauge what a business needs like a strategic, operational or financial plan. Then we go through our vetted list of consultants who can help that business execute. They work alongside that entrepreneur until they can do it themselves. In the 12 to 24 months that follow the accelerator, we see significant results.
What’s it like when the entrepreneurs graduate?
It’s hockey stick growth. We see increase in revenue and job creation. They are no longer just tired, they are confident. We target about 10 companies a year. We have ancillary partners like Operation Support Our Troops and the Small Business Development Center at Waubonsee Community College.
Being a banker, what’s your call on a cashless society: Sci Fi or reality?
Reality. There’s a lot of data that says cash is necessary, but I think our phones will act as a wallet. Card technology is advancing. I think there will always be some form of cash, but 25 years from now, money exchange will mostly be electronic.
Within your community work, what are you most proud of?
Again, I’d say the Fox Valley Entrepreneurial Center. The work we do there is really valuable. The most valuable piece is seeing a company come in a little lost. They’ve reached that first plateau — $100,000 in sales. Now, they need to hire someone. At $500,000, they need processes in place. At $1 million, they need a right hand person. When they come in and do their first pitch, we see what plateau they are. When they do their exit presentation, there’s a sense of relief. I see the impact.