After wrapping up more than a decade at Stratasan, I’m now working with startup and early stage companies as an advisor as well as providing technical due diligence to investors. My work is performed with Creo Advisory, LLC.
While at Stratasan I found myself doing a lot of things I hadn’t done before (as one does when you grow a company from two to about a hundred employees). Going from engineer to lead engineer to manager to manager of managers meant that about every two years my job description changed drastically.
To keep up, I did an inordinate amount of reading. I also relied heavily on discussions with peers. One thing that I found extremely useful was finding trusted advisors to work with. They served as both experienced voices and trusted soundboards. Often I had an idea of what I needed to do, I just needed to walk through it with someone and have them tell me, “Yeah, that makes sense. No, you’re not crazy.” Having an advisor not otherwise tied to the company would also extract me from the day-to-day grind and help me see the larger strategy. In short, I found having advisors to be very valuable.
I’ve also served as an advisor to other companies. Given how engaged I was at Stratasan, I could not do this as much as I would have liked. Post-exit, I have more time to devote to this.
One interesting thing about advisors is that the same advisor is not always useful in every situation. Each time I found a good advisor, there was a process of determining the subject matter expertise I needed most (product management? security/compliance? engineering?) and reviewing potential candidates for personality fit. I have worked with some folks who I was able to help for a time and after a while they no longer needed what I could provide. Advisor relationships are rarely permanent, and it’s important for the advisor and advisee to know when it’s no longer worth the investment of time.
Technical Due Diligence
I’ve been through a handful of technical due diligence processes. During each one, I always thought about ways to make it easier on the prospective company. They varied from “Wow, that felt entirely cursory” to “Holy smokes, this goes into a very unnecessary level of detail!” I hope to leverage this experience to run a technical due diligence process that minimizes the time necessary from the prospective company as well as maximizing usefulness for the investor or acquiring company.
What makes you qualified?
That’s a fair question! There are a couple attributes that make both an advisor or technical reviewer successful:
- A wide base of underlying experience. I have worked in technology since 2000, giving me almost a quarter of a century of experience across a wide array of startups across many technology stacks and industries. Much of what I’ve learned about successfully running teams is applicable to pretty much any industry independent of the specific technology stack.
- A history as an operator. Many consultants and advisors purport to have some kind of system or process that will resolve all your business problems (the proverbial “silver bullet”). Rarely do these folks have actual experience operating a business. The best advisors and investors that I’ve worked with all had prior experience as an operator.
Given my experience, I’m better suited to working as an advisor or doing technical diligence on startup and early stage companies with 5-100 employees. My domain expertise is heavily in healthcare and my technical experience is focused predominately on open-source stacks.
Great, how do I find out more or get in touch?
To find out more about Creo, see here.
If you think I might be helpful with whatever enterprise you’ve got going on, you can get in touch with me here.