Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Swimming with the Sharks

When you see a ship in port it not only means the end of one voyage, but the beginning of another. And so it is that my ship has come into port again, ending an almost three year journey. This was the fourth voyage where I filled the role of captain, pulling a crew together from different parts of the ship and taking the systems of the vessel up a couple of notches.

The role of the CIO is changing in many ways and like an old sea captain it becomes more and more difficult to find a ship where people are comfortable with you and believe you will function well on the bridge. Some think you lack the energy while others might feel you haven't kept up with the latest advances in the engine room or navigation systems. In fact, many think technology has advanced so much the ship can practically run itself.

Well I may find myself on the bridge of another ship one day, but in the meanwhile I have embarked on a completely new journey. Toward the end of last year I joined the crew of a pirate ship. Well, not really, but I'm not sure there is a good nautical analogy for an investors group. I suppose we're more like a independent fleet of fishing boats, casting our nets and hoping for a big haul.

I am now a partner in the North Andover Investors Collaborative II. Week after week we evaluate different early tech based start-up companies to choose the ones we think are going to be winners. What sets this group apart from most is the collective brain-trust with a diverse cross section of disciplines and experience.  To select the investments we draw from over thirty seasoned professionals with backgrounds in law, finance, technology, and a variety of verticals.  I've only been a part of it for a few months but I can already see where this breadth of knowledge has quickly segregated the high potential candidates from the glitzy flash in the pan ideas.

Playing Shark Tank has been exciting, fun and a real learning experience. I am seeing some incredible innovations, new software, services and technology. There will certainly be no lack of material to write about.

This new journey may be more uncertain, with less clear direction and a much higher risk of return. But I am enjoying the wind and the waves, and the camaraderie. This role turned out to be quite a catch!

Captain Joe

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