Andreas Calabrese - TampaBay.Ventures
The venture capital scene continues to evolve and emerge in Tampa Bay. Perhaps the most potent accelerant to that evolution is TampaBay.ventures. The founding group saw that tech startups are undervalued in Tampa Bay for a number of reasons. First they saw a lack of traditional funding sources locally, but also nationally. While anyone can open up shop anywhere and reach the world via the internet, that same expansiveness is not yet pervasive in funders who still operate under traditional parameters that keep them from looking to places like Tampa Bay. Secondly - dollars go further here. With that same logic - that businesses here can reach anyone in the world - investments made in Tampa Bay go further because costs are lower. After spending considerable energy searching for all the reasons not open a fund in Tampa Bay, the evidence was to compelling and TampaBay.Ventures was born. Andreas Calabrese, the man who runs the day to day operations for the fund is our guest on episode 94 of St. Pete X.
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Joe Hamilton 00:02
Joining me today on SPX is general partner at TampaBay Ventures, Andreas Calabrese. Welcome.
Andreas Calabrese 00:09
Thank you. Thanks for having me back.
Joe Hamilton 00:11
Good to see you again. I always like the International mix. You got the Italian last name, lived in Sweden, school in Canada, here, speak Spanish, speak Swedish. Not a bad resume.
Andreas Calabrese 00:25
No, no, I was very fortunate growing up to get a lot of cultural exposure. So I feel very lucky to walk through the world feeling as though I might, you know, understand different nuances that someone who maybe didn’t have all of those experiences.
Joe Hamilton 00:40
And why were you fortunate enough to have those experiences growing up?
Andreas Calabrese 00:45
My mom was a United Airlines flight attendant, she still is, has been for over 30 years, in Denver. So that obviously gave us the chance to travel quite a bit. And especially back home to Sweden, we would spend a lot of time in Sweden when I was younger, and just growing up there culturally really helped. And then later, through ski racing, I traveled quite a bit and then eventually lived in Europe full time. That really helps, I think. It really gives you an interesting and nuanced perspective that’s very difficult to develop, if you don’t speak the same language, as people here. You hear nuances in the ways that they communicate, nuances in the way to present ideas, receive ideas, those things that are fundamental to the way societies work.
Joe Hamilton 01:36
I mean, do you think it’s mainly the act of simply juxtaposing different cultures? Or, you know, if you had to sort of go back and master plan it, would you look at the specific cultures you would want to juxtapose?
Andreas Calabrese 01:47
I don’t know. Yeah, if I were to master plan, it probably looks very different than the kind of the surprise of life, but I think maybe language is a really big deal in the way that cultures are assembled. Because if I think even just in Swedish, the way you communicate in Swedish, is very different from the way you communicate in English, and just your responses to certain things. And even just the construction of our words and sentences mean that certain responses are going to be very different. And the way that you communicate an idea, there’s going to be a little bit of a different structure to it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if those actually have, you know, major inputs into what is that society good at from an economic standpoint, what are the things they value, what is, you know, what is the way? What are the things that an average citizen that speaks that language that lives in that country, or in that culture, thinks about on a day to day basis.
Joe Hamilton 02:40
Language is the lens that reality kind of shines through.
Andreas Calabrese 02:42
I think it shapes the way that you interact with the world and interact with others. And then it kind of maybe builds an internal culture as well.
Joe Hamilton 02:49
And generally, at least at first blush, it’s a positive experience if you’ve got the cool accent, or the cool travel experience, but then sometimes as you get a little deeper, and then those elements give way to more intense connections, that can be a negative. In general, did you find it a struggle to merge the worlds? Or did you always find it a positive?
Andreas Calabrese 03:09
I mean, a lot of the times I had an opportunity and took that opportunity, or had a situation arise where I had the ability to live in Mexico or to live in Sweden. I’m not really sure, I think the spontaneity of it is really important, and just kind of being surprised by things when you when you explore a new area.
Joe Hamilton 03:36
And the other the other piece of identities are formed by , or the purpose, a lot of times, of culture and community is just to get an identity, which kind of sets the ground rules for how to live and takes care of a lot of answers, a lot of questions for you on how to be when you’re jumping between different sort of identity anchors, who kind of tend not to have one of the, as you said, you no longer have a traditional identity anchor. So you come as kind of a mix. So did you just consider yourself citizen of the world? Or how do you feel you’re anchored?
Andreas Calabrese 04:14
I mean, obviously, I’m American. I was born here in the US, I will always be American, but I think it just really challenges some of the cultural assumptions that you don’t know that you have. Certainly being both Swedish and American from a from a citizenship perspective and growing up. It’s probably very, very effective into allowing you to not have as much depth of investment into cultural aspects that maybe don’t necessarily make a lot of sides.
Joe Hamilton 04:52
And in an interesting way, that kind of illustrates when people who are standing right next to you do say, “wow, that doesn’t make a lot of sense necessarily, or it seems strange,” I think that’s probably a net benefit to have that perspective.
Andreas Calabrese 05:08
Sure. I mean, if you fast forward into kind of the business that we’re in today of venture capital, that’s kind of the core of the entire thesis, is that group of fund managers raised some money and go out and test assumptions of the status quo, the world as it is today. And they do so in a number of areas. And they don’t really determine what is going to be presented to them. They’re not dictating what the world is going to look like. But they’re opining upon it. And so for me, I think that that multicultural experience is really important, because then if I’m thinking of a company, and every company, I think of is going to be from a global context boiled down to the geography that we’re in today. But I think it really assists us. Our entire team, in principle, has some international exposure. I think it really helps us to think maybe a little bit differently than you would if you had grown up and lived in the same place your entire life. So for me, and for our team, I think it’s a big advantage to just have a lot more diversified global perspective.
Joe Hamilton 06:15
And so that is Tampa Bay dot ventures, which is an investment fund. And you had said before that you moved here for that opportunity, because you felt Tampa Bay was undervalued from a from a tech standpoint, and kind of riffing off what you just mentioned about being able to see that value, because you have these unique perspectives. First, can you kind of explain what you see in Tampa Bay tech opportunities as being undervalued from an investment standpoint?
Andreas Calabrese 06:16
So when we say undervalued, what I think it means is, can we agree on two basic principles. One, there are people in this ecosystem or in the Tampa Bay area who have built and sold technology companies, and will likely do so again. I think that’s a fundamental truth that everyone would agree on. The other fundamental truth I think everyone would agree on would be is the cost of that person’s livelihood, significantly lower than if they were to do the same in San Francisco or New York? Probably also very true. So then you’re going up against the assumption of, Okay, do I believe that there are smart people in Tampa Bay? Yes. Do they still have access to the same market in principle, because we’re building companies on the internet? Most likely. So the market is not necessarily constrained by where I live, compared to if I was a professional services business and needed to meet every customer in person. Okay, so the market is basically the same if I’m gonna start my company here or if I’m gonna start my company in San Francisco. the advantage San Francisco has is that there’s more capital available in your backyard. So it’s easier to network with those sources of capital and attract them. But because of that, most companies that are started there start with a valuation premium. You have to pay two times the amount to every single employee that you have, so that they can cover their housing costs. And there’s a premium too, as an investor looking at companies, there’s a premium to the fact that there is a ton of capital sitting on the sidelines in San Francisco that often is looking for a deal more than it’s looking for something that they really believe. So what that does is I think it just pushes the cost of opportunity up to a point to where we have to kind of match that as an investor. And so if we’re going to give, let’s say, we write a million dollar check to a company, I fundamentally believe that you can do a lot more with that million dollars in Tampa Bay compared to in San Francisco at the early stage. And then the second, you get to a certain level of scale, you’re attractive on a national scale. And we’re seeing this, you know, over and over and over again, with some of the companies that are being built in Denver, or the emergence of Austin, we now live in a world where people really want to optimize for the life they live alongside when they build that company. And we have the tools and resources to basically be connected with anybody we need to in the US, or globally. And that’s where there’s a weird almost legacy inefficiency, because you say without hesitation that we build a business here, we connect it to the internet and we rock. But yet, the same would be true for capital flowing in here as well, because the people in San Francisco have equal access to find companies here, and yet they don’t. And so that’s where you get a little bit of the geographical overlay. I think that’s changing, and so the question is, at what rate do you think that’s changing where capital will get younger and more savvy and less tied to traditional boundaries, and start to negate some of that advantage over the coming years or decades? Yeah, and I think especially when we think of technology startups and venture capital, it’s a very weird asset class. You could be a very successful investor in real estate and probably transition over well to public assets, and you have the skill set that you use in terms of really optimizing for price, and really optimizing for the cheapest deal. And productivity is kind of uniform around a lot of the other ways that you would invest. For us, it’s very asymmetric. There’s very, very, very few companies that will deliver results that turn into large technology companies, but because of the nature of no marginal cost of delivering value to a customer, those upsides are very high. So you almost need to think in a lot more conceptual way about the future of what the product looks like. Because most of the value that you’re actually investing in, that you’ll be accessing from that company, doesn’t exist yet. And the people who are building that value are not yet a part of the team. So taking too much of a today’s snapshot on exactly where the company is, can be really challenging. But that being said, the number one thing I think that happens in ecosystems that drives them forward, is companies being built and exiting. And then the employees and the founders of those companies somehow reinvesting back into the ecosystem. Maybe that’s money, but more of the time, I think the actual bigger advantage that you have in big ecosystems is you have a lot of intellectual capital, that knows the playbooks of how to get some of these companies from zero to one, the employees that you hire in San Francisco or New York, or a lot of you have a lot of access to employees who have been at a company who went through a venture timeline, who’ve gotten to a certain level of scale. And so it makes it really easy to bring a lot of people together who know the mission, who know what’s ahead of them. Whereas here, we’re starting to have that. We’re having employees spin out of large companies that have scaled, we have startups that are being acquired. So as the kind of the reinvestment for me, yes, it means founders may be reinvesting in companies that they find really interesting. But it’s also the individual contributors at a company going off and starting something on their own.
Joe Hamilton 12:09
Yeah. And that’s a great point, and I’m actually gonna restate it just because it’s such a powerful point, is basically that your job as a firm that’s invested in these startups is to understand that thing that is going to be successful may be a quite a pivot from the thing it is now, you know, and that may involve people that aren’t necessarily even on the bus at this moment. And so there’s this weird trajectory of new people and new ideas that start with the seed of a company. And the more people that have been through that before increases the likelihood that those pivots in those buses will get staffed correctly.
Andreas Calabrese 12:47
Joe Hamilton 12:49
That’s great. So that’s the challenge with Tampa Bay. And you came here with this knowledge. How many years has it been now?
Andreas Calabrese 13:04
A little bit more than two years. Our anniversary date of the firm launching is May 11.
Joe Hamilton 13:11
And so, expectations versus reality: How would you grade those?
Andreas Calabrese 13:17
I mean, that’s kind of the way of building any company, right? You have lots of expectations of what the future holds. It’s very difficult to think through the growing pains and operational scaling ahead of time. But I’d say we’re very happy for what we’re seeing be built here. We’re seeing incredible companies be built here, we have local companies that are raising 40, 50, up to $100 million as real technology companies from what we would consider some of the best investors in the world. I don’t think that was necessarily the case maybe five or six years ago at the frequency we’re seeing today. Even in what we would consider a kind of a slowdown in venture capital and startups. I think we’ve actually been a lot more insulated from it here in Tampa Bay compared to other areas, and I think it’s because we don’t have that dependency on additional capital to pay for the costs of building a company a year.
Joe Hamilton 14:18
And how much how much did you put it on yourselves as a group to push that ecosystem and to encourage it, lubricate it, and amplify it? Because you guys came in with a very savvy investment thesis and a way of doing things and a presence that I think was we hadn’t seen here yet. And so just by existing and interacting with companies, you influence culture. So how intentional did you feel that you wanted to be with that and knowing that would serve your ultimate mission?
Andreas Calabrese 14:57
I think very right. I think our initial mission was, of course, we have the ambition to scale to kind of a firm that you would recognize anywhere in the country. And that’s really why we went after the name Tampa Bay Ventures and made it such a foundational part of our identity. We could have had any firm name. But while we really want to help build Tampa Bay brick by brick in terms of a technical ecosystem, we also see some sense of pride into eventually being investors in some of the top companies in the world and having the name Tampa Bay, beyond the capitalization tables of those companies. So for us, there are kind of two ways I would answer that question. One, we take on an incredible amount of responsibility in wanting to build the ecosystem. And we have a perspective on what we think will continue to progress the area, and we do so through our investing, but also through the companies we support and events that we try and bring in. We play a fabric, we kind of sit in between everybody. But the other side of it is I think we’re incredibly aware that we are actually going to play, from an individual perspective, very little role in shaping the ecosystem, that that work is mainly going to be done by the technology company founders who employ teams that get brought here to Tampa Bay, who acquire companies who list on the stock market, most of that is going to be driven by the company. So we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and believe that, you know, you’re the single source champion that’s driving the whole ecosystem. So if anything, we’re just a light layer that allows these incredible founders to really do that building.
Joe Hamilton 16:38
Yeah. And obviously appreciate, ultimately, the founders that get there. But you know, it’s not single source, I think that’s overstating as well, but you do your deciding where the money goes, which often decides which companies get the running start on trying to do those things. And so by selecting those companies, you’re overlaying how you think things should be done and how companies get built, which comes from good experience. And like I said, I’ve been super impressed with the expectations that you’ve had with companies to do things the right way. So I think it’s important.
Andreas Calabrese 17:13
Yeah, I appreciate it. I think it’s hard to know exactly what the perception of our group is from an external perspective. But I think, if I were to say what I would assume our brand is, is that we’re probably very, very diligent in the way that we go about our ideas. But once we back and support something, we really try and stay out of the way of the founders as much as we can, but try and be impactful when we can. But so that’s why we spend so much of the work, analyzing the opinion, being incredibly detailed and picky on the stuff that we really like, is because we’re basically handing off and saying we have a deep level of intimate trust with that founder. So as the nature is with a venture fund, you get some of those relationships wrong, you get some of them right, you overestimate the capacity of some, you underestimate the capacity of others. And that’s part of part of the surprise, but really spending the intellectual capital that we have on thinking very deeply about every problem, I think, is what serves us.
Joe Hamilton 18:18
Yeah. And I will say a lot of that does fall on you because there’s technically four partners, but some of the other folks are already later in their career, very successful, all flying their planes around the country, and doing fun things like that. So you’ve had the opportunity to really make it your thing and I’ve seen you out in the community at events and panels and all that sort of thing. So how would you describe your personal expression of this mission, through philosophy of where to go and what to do, and who to talk to and what to say?
Andreas Calabrese 18:55
I mean, it’s, again, it’s just putting yourself in the arena that’s very, very important. You need to be operating near or at the limit of where you feel incredibly comfortable and safe in terms of the scope of what you’re taking on. For us is just about continued growth. We don’t operate like a normal company to where we have some progress, with that progress comes additional revenue, you hire additional people, you build up staff and in a venture business, you start with a fixed amount of revenue, and then your complexity kind of grows linearly, or maybe a little bit faster than than linearly at times. And you don’t really have the additional resources to solve those problems as you get further down the road. So then you have a big step function, you maybe go out and raise another fund and now you have new resources, but then you kind of catch up with the scale of problems that you deal with. So it’s no secret that most venture firms are really poorly run businesses just because of the dynamics of what you actually are. You have the cost expectation of being just an asset manager, but you have the operational expectation to almost be, you know, a full time accelerator and a full time operating company alongside your founders. So getting that balance, right is obviously very difficult. I think this is one of the most difficult businesses in the world. And that’s why it attracts some of the smartest people in the world. But my expression in the local ecosystem is, it’s very hard, we’re not going to pick every company, there’s gonna be a lot of great companies that are going to be built that we’re not a backer of. But the ones that we do back, I really hope are going to be some of the companies that really change the ecosystem.
Joe Hamilton 20:43
And I think just for folks who are not familiar, it bears sort of talking about the revenue model for these funds. The standard is 2 and 20. So if it’s a $10 million fund, you would pull 2% out a year for management costs are that get you a couple hundred thousand. And then if there’s an exit, you get 20% of the profit after the principal is returned to the investors, which means that you’re trying to operate a pretty sophisticated business on $200,000 a year, which isn’t a lot of salaries, you know, it’s people that have to be willing to get that money later as well and participate in success.
Andreas Calabrese 20:43
Right. And on that, then you have investments of you have to invest in compliance, you have to invest in a lot of reporting. There’s insurance considerations when you sit on the boards of some of the companies. So I mean, it’s an interesting business model. But at the end of the day, we get to participate in growing these companies to scale. And I think the alignment in terms of the actual carry makes a lot of sense. When a business does really well. We the investors, alongside of our general partners, are both immediately rewarded, and the only reward we really see is when those companies do well. So in terms of an alignment perspective, I think it makes a lot of sense. It’s just the nature of the business to where you know, the operational complexity very quickly catches up to your resources and then eclipses beyond that.
Joe Hamilton 22:02
It’s an interesting group. Let’s take a commons and just talk about how it all came together. I think you met Marcus first, can you guys walk us through how the group came together?
Andreas Calabrese 22:12
So Marcus, Tom, and Wes, had all been, you know, they had been previous friends and knew each other. Marcus is really kind of the catalyst for what created Tampa Bay ventures after he had exited his business. He really identified this initial gap in Tampa Bay. And coming from the perspective that he had of being an entrepreneur, growing your company over the course of 20 years, going through a sale to a large public entity. He really thought that he had a lot of insight that really helped these companies. Sometimes you get one sentence from somebody who’s been in your industry that transforms a problem you’ve been thinking about for a year. And so he really was the catalyst for starting starting this process. I at the time, had been living in Tampa Bay, I was in Colorado, servicing a customer for my former company, and got a call from a mutual friend to Marcus who said, hey, you know, they’re thinking there’s some ideas of putting together a venture firm, and Tampa Bay is really the target of that venture firm. My mission at that point was to try and grow my own company to a scope of where we could start investing in the ecosystem, mainly through kind of buying companies and holding them and owning them. But my mission was always to come back and deploy capital in Tampa Bay. So when we started having these conversations, initially, actually the first conversations we were having is okay, why would a venture fund not make sense here. And we spent most of our initial time trying to talk ourselves out of the idea. But the inevitability of Tampa and Florida in general is growth, the inevitability of great companies being built here. And the timing to us, we just kept coming back to this. This is something that we really, really need to do in the space and the window for venture fund is available.
Joe Hamilton 24:09
And then that point, you started looking for people to contribute to the initial fund. And Tom, who was with Hooters came on and Wes, when did they come in? And why did they become partners versus just investors? You know, where you have more people that are in the fund that aren’t named?
Andreas Calabrese 24:28
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, Tom, Wes, and Marcus, we all kind of play a different role. And especially when you’re starting a venture fund, because of that challenge that we talked about, of you know, we don’t really have the resources to staff up a team of the quality of people that we would really feel would deliver value to our our founders. So they, they all came together and they play individual roles and all of us basically sit around the table and look at all of our investments and make a lot of decisions together. So while I might be more present at a lot of events, and founders may meet me more, in the background, most of these conversations are very collective. So kind of the credit of the fund and the success of it is definitely shared between all of us. That’s great.
Joe Hamilton 25:13
And you personally, you were in VC in Sweden, and were seduced away to start up. You were CFO at TVM. And now you’re back on the other side of the table. So is this a cycle? Will we see you moving into one of the companies?
Andreas Calabrese 25:33
I don’t think so. I mean, you never really know what the future holds. But for me, the asset allocation in startups is what’s really interesting to me. That’s where I think my skill set lies, that kind of multicultural approach gives me an advantage. And maybe being a generalist that can get depth in concepts of businesses may be quicker than the average. And it’s just a game. There’s such a long tail. Our initial fund is a 10 year commitment to our limited partners. If and when we do decide that we want to take on additional capital, that’s another 10 year commitment. So we’re saying already in the range with TPV. That’s a 15 to 20 year range, as I sit here today, so there’s a lot of luck, there’s a lot of luxury in being able to think that far ahead in the future. But, you know, that comes at the cost of optionality. But for me, I think the investment side was always the ambition since I was very, very young. And and as I said, today, I can’t really imagine doing anything else.
Joe Hamilton 26:37
So let’s try a little bit of tough love. I know you you’ve spoken very highly of the scene, and that you’ve been able to find companies you can be really proud of investing in. What can we do better? What do we need more of?
Andreas Calabrese 26:51
It’s a good question. I think attracting more technical people to the region, whether that’s in the capacity of as employees, or I think we’re probably one of the best geographies in the country, now that remote work is a reality. But if I was a remote worker at Facebook, or Google or, or even, you know, in finance, if I worked for a hedge fund, Tampa Bay would be one of the first places on my radar. I mean, our quality of life is unbelievable, you have huge amounts of net migration, lots of opportunity. You have housing, and we build housing here. You know, we have seem to have a lot of social issues that a lot of other larger geographies don’t have under control to a much better degree here. To me, really capitalizing on Tampa Bay being probably one of the best places in the country, if not one of the best places in the world to be a remote worker, that I think would be something that collectively we could capitalize on. And then I think it’s kind of the same things that we always talk about if you know, our chiefdoms of Tampa Bay versus St. Pete versus Clearwater, we all win in the end, from collaboration on some of these projects. And whether the credit for an individual company landing in one of those jurisdictions or another is very important, let’s focus on the big picture of just getting more people to understand that living here is a great choice. You can move here, you can be equally as ambitious as if you lived in some of these other geographies, you can build an incredible company here. That was those collective resources, I think, is what gives us a fighting chance to move quickly.
Joe Hamilton 28:34
And I think historically, you couldn’t market your way to that kind of attractiveness to talent. Usually it was exits, and people build stuff around Dell, or you know, Sand Hill and things like that. But now it is almost a new animal, in that you could potentially market awareness. Building for remote workers is a new opportunity that wasn’t there previously, because it’s individual decision. And a lot of that is just awareness. So, you know, have you done any thinking about how we might accomplish that as a region?
Andreas Calabrese 29:08
I think we always think about it, you know, we’ll probably be careful to making our recommendations until we feel that, you know, it’s something super, super important. But I think your point is exactly right. It’s from an economic development perspective, you used to have to focus on the organization, you pull the organization to Tampa, the employees come with, but we actually have a much bigger opportunity of focusing on the individual, because the individual class of remote workers is a much larger pool than you would tap from from trying to get a Fortune 500 relocate to to our backyard. Those things are still obviously incredibly important. But there’s this window of opportunity to where if I think we shifted our mindset to saying, hey, let’s make this one of the best places in the world for remote workers to live, the windfalls of that later are large companies are going to be created, and they’re going to have the soul and the ethos of having been built here, and they’re gonna invest, there’s gonna be a lot more care about, about investing into the ecosystem investing into whether it be education or infrastructure, or, you know, when you live here, and you’ve built a company here, you care a lot more about your backyard. So optimizing for that individual is probably one of the better things we can do.
Joe Hamilton 30:24
It makes a lot of sense. You know, I’m curious, personally, your founders are climbing a mountain, and they get to the top of the mountain, and to some extent, you’re providing the equipment and guidance up the mountain. And you talked about these long time horizons of committing 10 years and starting another 10 year fund halfway through, so your 15 year commitment, maybe up to 20 year commitment. Do you feel like you’re getting your mountain climbing thrills vicariously through the companies, or do you reach a more zen-like “I’m okay, being at this layer for the next, you know, 10 or 15 years? And, you know, obviously, you’re going to be doing a lot of the same educating new companies meeting with new companies, doing endless due diligence, you know, and all that sort of thing. All towards a greater good, but it’s a greater good. That may not mean with the exception of a massive exit, it may not express itself as true mountain.
Andreas Calabrese 31:42
I guess that both the challenge and the joy for us is that we’re not involved in building the actual companies That’s very clear. We are a financier, we provide a lot of support. But ultimately, the founders of the companies are the ones who get credit. And they’re the ones who build these incredible businesses. So we definitely get to partake in the joys and the excitement of when things go really well. We also have to partake in a lot of the conversations when when something doesn’t go so well inside of a company. So the challenge, I guess, for venture fund, and especially a venture manager, is we have 14 portfolio companies, there’s 14 individual melodramas being played out simultaneously. So if you take a look at a phone of the average venture capitalist, you have 10 good moments incoming that require action, you have 10 moments of utter doom for certain companies that require action, and that stream is basically never ending. So there’s there’s plenty of action. But it’s a different relationship with that action, right? You can’t really take action on changing the outcomes or being a better beneficiary from a credit perspective of everything that’s going well. But it’s amazing, when companies do really well, you feel like you played a small part. And then when companies are having challenges, you definitely have to try and come in and provide a perspective of okay, across our other companies, here are some founders are solving that problem. What do you think?
Joe Hamilton 33:15
Yeah, so what is that mental exercise in that you have these expert operators who have been very successful, who can sort of see the the tracks out around the corner and the train still going there, and yet they’re one of 14 companies, which is one of five other things these folks are doing with their life. And so how do you stay attached yet detached? It seems like a balance.
Andreas Calabrese 33:41
Yeah. I mean, we’re constantly learning how to improve in that aspect, trying to be more operationally capable in terms of the way in which we structure these conversations, and you just have to have incredible amounts of discipline around being really structured with things. The second you don’t set up an immediate time after a text message, your train is already derailed, and now you’re 14 companies behind by the time you get to them. And the other thing is, founders are crazy. They’re crazy in their ambition for the world. They’re crazy in the way that they attack the problems they go after. They’re incredibly ambitious, they’re incredibly driven. Those are who our interactions are with every single day right? So we’re just trying our best to manage the times when we can be effective and when maybe we think we can be effective where we might try something that might work, it might not; being really clear on what pieces of guidance we’re giving, when we can take part, when we can’t, and just managing relationships with really intense, really driven people is always a challenge, but it’s what makes the job interesting and fun.
Joe Hamilton 34:53
Wonderful. I’ve enjoyed the conversation. Thank you for catching us up on all things Tampa Bay Ventures and a little bit more about your personal journey, which sounds like a great one. I very much appreciate what you’ve brought with leveling up our game here with startups and investments and things. It’s made everybody better, and these companies are starting to get to the point where there’s some some potential sniffs at some exits, and that’ll be super exciting as well. And like you said, it’s a long term investment, and when those exits happen, they’re reinvesting and nurturing that the ecosystem, and you guys will be there for all of it.
Andreas Calabrese 35:35
Yeah, absolutely. Now we’re excited for the future to come here. And we’ll continue waking up day by day and laying brick by brick.
Joe Hamilton 35:43
Awesome. Thanks. Andreas Calabrese at Tampa Bay dot Ventures.