March 04, 2019

Adventures of a VC Angel:Life after Corporate

Paulo H. Leocadio

Paulo H. Leocadio
Co-Founder/Zinnia Holdings LLC; sculpIT Fitness LLC; OneCloud Management LLC

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Differently than my usual post, talking about applied technology for Big Data and Cloud Computing, I am calling for introspection while looking into my different life, a life after corporate.

(I have a blog where I explore some aspects of my new life and offer insights for those considering freelancing on IT Consulting space: The Misfits Lair).

If you read this through, please consider the text as a visit to my own experience rather than any intention to offer advice or teach you best practices. A literature exercise if you will, to tell the tale of a technology and applied science corporate professional turned into venture capitalist, angel investor, independent consultant and entrepreneur.

First off, the transition

For context only, my original plan was a different path but the deviation was forced by personal matters, one of those things that Corporate America does not necessarily is willing to wait for the resolution, even when one dedicates the best twenty years of one's life. Or, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.

Then, I talked to the wind

And my words were all carried away. But the wind did hear me and brought me back the answer in the form of one word: passion.

I have always been passionate with "things". I do what I like and I like what I do. I do my best to avoid or move away from doing what I do not like to do, and it is not different at work. Since I was searching for me, instead of looking everywhere, I decided to start looking inside to answer the "what now, what to do next" question.

So come inside the show's about to start, guaranteed to blow your head apart. Rest assure you'll get your money's worth, come inside the show's about start your're gonna see the show, it's a dynamo, come and see the show, it's rock'n'roll!

A man with many interests and many passions

There is a risk. For a person like me there is a tremendous risk to lose focus due to my broad variety of interests and passions. Let's see:

  • Applied science and technology, this is where I invested my professional and academic career, this is where I achieved in depth level of expertise and knowledge, this is where I was awarded and recognized across many frontiers.
  • Music, by blood and DNA, this is my life.
  • Literature and Arts, this my church, this is where I heal my hurts.
  • Antiques and collectibles, this is where I can socialize, this is where I share the human experience, this is where I interact with peoples, cultures and costumes.
  • Business Operations Management, this is where I help people and business to achieve efficiency, this is where I share my knowledge and experience to meet business objectives and solve business problems through my leadership skills and management capabilities.
  • Start ups and Business Turnarounds, and I include investments on this bucket. This is where my risk taker self meets my disciplined investor persona. This is where I can use my own resources (including my time and expertise) to make ideas, to partner in the recovery of challenged businesses and to make it happen.

Then the question changed from "what now, what to do next" to "how to succeed capitalizing on my hobbies and my passions".

Short term and "low hanging fruits": sharing the knowledge and sowing Consulting seeds

Friends and network. Decades of accumulated experience in Consulting Services and Support Services, always in support of the core business, helped me to build an extensive network across the globe.

My long international experience building technology solutions, delivering IT projects and solving business problems propagated the sound of many ringing bells throughout my network, and specially with those involved with projects with governments, involving Big Data and Cloud Computing.

That gave me a solid backlog and produced many fruits to succeed on the "freelancing" space as an independent consultant and, later, as an incorporated entity, a vehicle that enabled me to build a pipeline of projects (this is the topic I explore at The Misfits Lair).

More important, it gave me time to invest in expanding my academic transcript with Big Data and Data Sciences grad, and also to explore opportunities.

Diversifying the portfolio: stock exchanges and start ups

Now, what to do with my Estate? I am allowed to invest in different stock exchanges, which is fantastic to maximize gains, and also to maximize gains while minimizing risks when managing the potential of different funds and stocks from different countries.

This scenario enabled me to build a new bucket, one that would make me become an Angel Investor under my own incorporated trust.

My objective: skin in the game and partnership.

The choices for applied sciences aimed at making impact in people's lives, combined with those opportunities where I could voice my ideas instead of just being a passive investor.

This vision would also create boundaries marked by discipline and focus. I could never lose control for adrenaline or greed, but also would allow me to move quick if I considered so.

The main outcome of this is the long term approach and the solidification of my Estate. At the same time I can fill up my schedule with clear roles, responsibilities and deliverables.

Making money with hobbies: why not?

At the same time that I can continue to go to auctions, to explore Estate sales for those rare, weird, vintage or antique designer items (I am addicted to Tiffany's rarities), I can capitalize during the process instead of just accumulating and I can fund my projects ...

This is possibly the best combination so far. While I relax with my hobbies looking for those rare pieces, now I trade and profit, a profit I use directly to fund a couple of risky projects and start ups of my own.

Many interesting outcomes besides the funding opportunities. The "incorporated hobby" gives the formal, official aspect of the funding for legal and accounting purposes. Further the "business" grows also on assets with tremendous flexibility, enabling the registration and use of trademarks, putting out the name of the main business, among others. Building an eCommerce platform that will generate organic traffic as the main business mature and goes public.

Not to mention the relationship and perception of the financial institutions that are so important to enable growth. For sure to be self funded is major to avoid debt or giving away equity for investors, there are moments where you need financing though. Your banking manager will do it very nicely, explaining that unfortunately over 90% of the new businesses fail in two years and that reality prevents them to give you business loans, so on, so forth.

For this scenario, I can have a well established business for the period or more, I can have a steady cash flow, growing revenue, a brand, assets, in other words, a real serious business.

Conclusions and lessons learned from an incorporated life

Fun, flexibility, focus and discipline.

A wide range of options and opportunities to explore, while the machine runs efficiently.

Higher quality of the direct engagements, being on projects or other types of contracts.

Strategic partnerships so that both personal and business accounting, tax, legal and finances are always compliant and protected.

Every activity can be "professionalized" and you have the channels and vehicles to make them happen officially.

All the world's a stage!

Comments? You can contact me directly via my AdvisoryCloud profile.

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