What is your vision for startup culture in Jacksonville?
I believe Jax will become a first-tier city for entrepreneurs. We’re well on our way, there’s tremendous momentum and interest. We have all of the basics in place. We’ve been gifted a great natural environment that is a great place to live, and an economic environment that makes it affordable for entrepreneurs with families. We’ve got a reputable university network, with growing national reputations. And finally, we have right in our backyard, the beginnings of a biotechnology nexus. We see a growing tech community beginning to evolve as well.
How did you get started with PS27 Ventures?
Soon after I retired from IBM, I was approached by a local entrepreneur about investing in their startup, which I did. But a few meetings I realized I was never going to get my money back unless I helped this company. So I started meeting with them on a regular basis we helped them build their budget, we hired a team, we found an office, we made the first sale. It was a lot of fun to see the team go from an idea on paper to a real business. That’s how we got going. That has become PS27.
What is PS27 now?
PS27 is a key resource for entrepreneurs across the southeast. We’re a source for capital and unique entrepreneurial training. We have an extensive network of partners, mentors, and investors. We are also have created a process for scaling companies and preparing them for explosive growth. We also connect them to specialized accelerators and investors to raise capital.
What is the biggest mistake that entrepreneurs make?
Most entrepreneurs initially struggle to explain how their solution solves a problem and know who their customer really is. They put their eyes on the investor and do not pay attention to the customer. Many also are focused on getting big fast, instead of making a product that people actually want, and makes money.
What character traits do you look for in a founder?
The most important character trait I look for is adaptability. Everything changes when you get funded when you get customers, and when you begin to scale. So, I ask, “Is this the kind of person who is able to adjust and change their strategy as their company grows.”
What innovations do you think will disrupt business in the future?
Well, I think artificial intelligence is going to disrupt every business. As computers can take on more work that humans used to perform it will change what humans do. I also think virtual reality will change how work is performed by humans. We will be able to create virtual environments where you’ll be able to perform work just like in a real environment. And biotechnology solutions will change life itself.