Ray Garcia

Managing Director

Buoyant Capital

Author of "StartUP SOAR Coaching - coaching the startup to successful outcomes by adapting to resiliency"

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15 minutes $15.00
30 minutes $60.00
60 minutes $240.00

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Biography

Ray Garcia is the managing director of Buoyant Capital, a global peer advisory think tank addressing the growth challenges of small to medium sized enterprises. The firm coordinates its team of experts to help its clients improve competitiveness through talent management, global market expansion partnership access, technology asset management, capital investment and restructuring. Buoyant Capital was founded in 2000 in New York City and has helped launch several start-up companies and works as an advisory to company founders, CEO’s, and their investors. Ray has over 20 years of experience as a technology entrepreneur, as company CTO co-founder, for four venture-backed companies. Earlier in his career, he worked as an executive for major banks including, Citicorp, Republic National Bank (now HSBC), Bank of America, and as a technology consultant to several large U.S. multi-national corporations. In 2008, he was elected to serve as an executive in resident at MIT Media Lab. Since 2010 he serves on the advisory board of Baruch College Field Center for Entrepreneurship. From 2011 to 2014, he taught an accelerated course in entrepreneurship at the University of Pisa, Italy, School of Economics, to PhD candidates and International MBA executives with a focus on innovation, technology transfer and venture spin-offs. In 2015 he is serving as a business expert to E.U. Commission Horizon 2020 SME innovation instrument where he will evaluate commercialization grant proposals of technology ventures.

Experience

Venture Growth Advisor

Buoyant Capital
January 2000 - present

Entrepreneurship Lecturer and Curriculum Coordinator

University of Pisa
April 2011 - May 2014

Executive in Residence

MIT Media Lab
August 2008 - September 2009

Research Advisor

University of Arizona
October 2005 - March 2009

CTO, VP R&D

SMART System Technologies
May 2002 - September 2005

CTO

Clearcross Inc. (now Kewill Intl.)
January 1997 - January 2000

VP Technology

Citicorp
January 1996 - January 1997

VP Technology

Republic National Bank (now HSBC)
January 1994 - January 1996

Other

Publications

StartUP SOAR Coaching - Coaching the StartUP for Successful Outcomes by Adapting to Resiliency
4/2/2015

Start-up now, get inspired to create a high impact international business, make a difference by putting ideas into action, and produce a return on investment with your talents. Entrepreneurs gain satisfaction by using their talents to produce new wealth for both society and themselves. In a modern world, employment choices typically fit established institutional norms. A “good” job in a government bureaucracy or a large corporation, with its abundance of restrictive policies, may not provide much work satisfaction despite the employment benefits and stability. If you have ever thought, dreamed, imagined, or fantasized about starting a business, or being part of a company doing creative work with a purpose, then you have started to connect with your entrepreneurial spirit. This book is for anyone who wants to better understand the entrepreneurial approach. It originated from the first entrepreneurship course I taught at the University of Pisa from 2011 through 2014 and is based on over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur of venture backed technology companies. The course was designed for PhD researchers and MBA students looking to expand their work opportunities beyond their traditional prescribed paths into institutions and corporations. This material is not only for academic researchers, it assumes that entrepreneurship is latent in all people. Traditionally, we are taught not to aim for self-employment through entrepreneurship during the years of primary education. Anyone with an advanced education, self-motivation, ambition, a vision for how to improve the world, a good attitude, and a willingness to take on the challenge of actively exploring entrepreneurial pursuits, should be able to follow the material and put it to use in their own efforts. If you currently own or are working in a company and want to innovate and expand the business, this book might be of value in inspiring you to grow a high impact international business by leveraging the business you are already doing. Read it to prepare for the journey and put the concepts into action; do not be a passive reader. Start-up now, get inspired to create a high impact international business, make a difference by putting ideas into action, and produce a return on investment using your talents.

What are the biggest challenges to coaching entrepreneurs?

And in follow up, what differences to you find in coaching entrepreneurs in the US vs Italy?

2/4/2016 11:19:38 AM,
Ray Garcia replied:

Two sides of the challenges. The entrepreneurs not knowing how to best work with a coach, know what they need help with, and understand how to apply what the coach is guiding them in.  It is also the case that many people are willing the help but have little to no training as a coach and often may not have experience as an entrepreneur.  The coaches and entrepreneur may confuse the difference between coaching versus mentoring and might seep into it being a training or teaching engagement.  Training is not the same as teaching, training being focused on skills and teaching on understanding foundational concepts.  Coaching is focused on performance while mentoring is guiding the direction.  These are simplistic description but it shows that understanding these distinctions require some study from both parties.  I address this in the chapter Coaching versus Mentoring in the book Startup SOAR Coaching.  In that chapter I explain how these notions overlap and how they are different.  I have found that in coaching executives to use coaching as a management style they can benefit from understanding the boundaries.  The entrepreneurs are much better at asking for the kind of help they can use and from the people who can take the role that they need.

Coaching entrepreneurs in the US versus Italy is a much longer topic than I can answer in a Q&A since it requires some background on the differences between the US and Italian economy and how people progress through the educational systems.  The simplistic statement is that in Italy the notion of an entrepreneur is very much connected to a family dynamic whereas in the US it is viewed as a heroic journey.  Both markets are advanced economies therefore for the majority of people, getting a job is the first choice, the easy road, but this is now changing with the shifts in the global economy.

2/25/2016 3:33:40 PM,
Ray Garcia replied:

Much depends on why you want to write a book and what kind of book it is.  From speaking to other authors and from my own experience publishing several books, it is not something that one can do full-time and have all that time be productive.  My first book took me four years to finish.  The actual writing took less than a year, editing took another six months. Most of the time over those years was developing the material and putting it into practice in a teaching situation.  It started with an outline for a series of talks and the notes I used as references.  I then started to actively blog on the topic to develop a voice and style that might work with the audience I was interested in reaching. As I got feedback on the material and learned what was easily understood and how to express it I decided on a book structure and what would be included.  I spent years doing the background research to find sources that supported my assertions and experience as well as challenged some of my perspectives.

The simple advice I can offer is just start writing, do it often, and get it in front of an audience.  Writing needs to come from having a voice, feeling compelled to to put it out there, doing it in small chunks, and exercise the craft.  The most important is to start by identifying as an author, it makes it easier to think and act like one.

2/25/2016 3:48:31 PM,
Ray Garcia replied:

Like most people, my own perception of my worth doesn't have a price, it is infinite, time is not something I can renew, unlike losing and making money.  That being said, I spend a lot of time with professional peers exchanging value, much of it simple goodwill, with the expectation that they will pass it forward.  As Adam Grant, the author of "Give and Take", so eloquently describes, being generous with time can bring returns well beyond that which was put in, although one cannot expect it and know what that may happen.  So what I charge doesn't reflect my internal value or what the receiving person perceives as the value since like any time-based service, it is what is said, not how long it takes to say it that matters.

With the rate listed on the ECN, it is what I call a "bozo" fee, meaning it easily filters out nonsense callers, or people who would ask me for time but have no intention of passing it forward or having a reciprocal exchange of value.  Normally these are people who are outside of my large network of relationship and I have no easy way of qualifying them through a reputation network.  It the cold caller that the rate for.  I do recognize that people outside of my current network might be interesting to connect with so I want to make it easy for them to act on some interest they have.  If they decide to engage, and I want to work with them on some interesting opportunity, then naturally the rate is no longer time-based, but value based.

The other pricing consideration I made was that the rate is limited, it is only for an initial call.  In an hour it is not sufficient time for anything that is significantly complex or to resolve a problem, so these get reduce to call made to qualify me as an expert.  In effect they are paying for a sales call.  They might ask some specific informational questions or others that help them assess whether I can help them in some way.  Often that help, as it is with many experts, is to help the company understand how to frame the problem they want to solve, and often the solutions become obvious.

So understanding the posted calling rate with the above perspective, one can see that they are paying for me to sell them, it is an access fee, not a consulting fee.

Are there similarities between authors and start-up entrepreneurs?

As both an author and a start-up advisor, it seems you have unique view into the lives of both. Do you see similarities in the lives of authors and those of start-up entrepreneurs? What, if anything, could they learn from each other? 

2/25/2016 4:01:01 PM,
Ray Garcia replied:

All authors have to be entrepreneurial if they are to succeed in finding an audience and having the effort be financially sustainable.  Not all authors publish to get a return on the books, most people who write never make any money at all from it, they do it for promotional reasons, or as a complement to another activity, or to help an audience understand something that is challenging to comprehend.

All entrepreneurs could benefit from being authors although most will never spend the time to learn the craft.  I read that Jeff Bezos requires people who attend a meeting, to draft their thoughts first and bring in the writing with them.  I completely understand his rational, if forces people to structure their thinking.  It is a cultural bias he is imposing within Amazon, it works for him but it isn't for everyone.  Some of the best entrepreneurs find it very challenging to have the concentration to write, they are better at speaking or kinetic activities, or deep listening, or visual representations.  The cognitive styles of entrepreneurs can vary and therefore while being an author could be beneficial for some, it is not for all.

What entrepreneurs and authors do have in common, is they both struggle with editing, they are good at creating the material, the words, the product, but editing is a special and difficult skill.  As an entrepreneur I am constantly asking, how can I make the product simpler, as a author I ask can I explain this easier. In both cases I prefer the creative process of building up the material but the real value comes in the editing process.  Like entrepreneurship, writing is not a solo activity, it needs a team, editors, publishers, marketing folks, similar to entrepreneurs, they are made by the team they assemble for the work at hand.

Are there any areas in banking or fintech ripe for disruption?

Earlier in your career it looks like you worked in banking which we know to be a highly regulated industry. What opportunities exist for early stage companies in the banking or financial services sector? Are there any areas in banking or fintech ripe for disruption?

2/25/2016 4:34:24 PM,
Ray Garcia replied:

While Fintech gets a lot of attention and excessive investment I do not see many real innovations that will disrupt the existing entrenched players.  What one finds are various strategies for layering on top of the existing banking and payments infrastructure.  They are mostly incremental and easily reproduced.  When the focus is on the technology that is the least interesting.  What one sees Stripe, Square, Dwolla or the older Paypal are overlays.

Much speculation has been touted about M-Pesa in Kenya but what isn't revealed is that it has a pre-existing cultural dynamic that was conducive to its emergence there.  The technology only captured and expanded on what people already did.

The latest investor hysteria is Bitcoin and blockchain related technologies, mostly built on speculation by the technical elite, and it may slowly be mainstreamed by the banks to reduce internal cost, so again its an optimization.

Where I think the major opportunities remain, which is less a disruption of the status quo, but an expansion into new markets, are solutions that address the needs of the developing world, the non-banked, under-banked populations that are reliant on cash. The typical view is that this will converge on to the mobile devices but this hasn't happened yet and I do not think the solution is turn cash into digital, it doesn't recognize why and how people use cash and all the implications for removing it from an economy.  What the new opportunity is here I am not going to reveal!

The most interesting area is a complete reconception of what a bank is for.  We are a long way from this now due to the dynamics that have been created by the social networks and the race to the bottom in winner take all network economics.  Once this all comes to pass, and people understand the true cost of the constants tweets and selfies and narcissistic obsessions, then space will be available for advances that might be dramatic, but my conjecture is we are at least ten years away from this.  That is the disruption moment but things have to get a lot worse before they get better.

To answer the question directly, the disruption comes from breaking the existing systems, for now that is all in cyber-warfare, break the security and have a way to fix it and that will cause some of the disruptions that are needed.

2/25/2016 4:43:50 PM,
Ray Garcia replied:

It is not so much that the publishing industry is changing, it is mostly in the way that people are consuming media and the explosion of competing noise signalling attention. The publishing industry has struggled to adjust to this new reality but what has emerged provides new opportunities for authors and publishing companies.  The larger companies will continue to fight for surviving of their revenue streams.  Indie publishing is easier now but much harder to making enough money for it to be sustainable.

It has always been a challenge for authors to find an audience willing to pay for the work.  It is not any easier now.

Online and offline, it is all about marketing, and that requires funding, something that the publishing companies do not do now without some proof that an author has an audience of buyers.  Celebrity wins in this game unfortunately and while a few authors are able to bust through, they are not necessarily the best writers or the best books.  Nothing new here, great literature has always had a limited audience.  Fun novels, like tabloid newspapers, will find a ready audience.

I have found that similar to the music business that to sell a book or recorded music one has to promote in person.  Online marketing through the many pay to play advertising schemes is also necessary but it is not as effective as doing a talk or performing the music.   This reduces the book and music to a complement for the creator and with the exception of creative writing the books are reduced to a commodity.

2/25/2016 5:01:52 PM,
Ray Garcia replied:

Calculate your affordable loss before starting any business.  I explain this concept in my book "Startup SOAR Coaching" in the chapter on funding.

If you can master your personal finances it will go a long way toward surviving and eventually thriving as an entrepreneur.

2/25/2016 5:07:00 PM,
Ray Garcia replied:

I do not have a favorite genre of books, I try to read a diverse range of subject and writing styles.

I can state what I do not read much easier, tabloids, paperback novels, anything related to horror or violence subjects.

I also tend not to waste time with books about iconic figures that are written by ghost writers or people trying to interpret someone's life.

By extension, all books about leadership I consider mostly nonsense.

2/25/2016 5:19:23 PM,
Ray Garcia replied:

They fall into two categories, one is financial and the emotional.  Financially I had to save enough and get myself into a position that I could take on more career risk without destroying my potential to earn a living with the skills I spent time developing.  As I explained in another Q&A, this is the time it takes to accumulate enough personal savings that my affordable loss is enough that I could pursue higher risk ventures and if they failed it would not be a personal catastrophe.  The second aspect is one of having an emotional constitution, this is very hard to develop and takes a lot of experience, this is when all the cognitive biases impact one's perceptions such that it is hard to make sound business decisions.  I describe this in my book "Startup SOAR Coaching", see the section on cognitive biases.  For example, perpetual self-doubt and second guessing every decision, or being over-confident that some action is going get a reward.  These all get amplified as an entrepreneur and it is not enough to be aware of them, it take a lot of time to be able to control these factors in oneself.  It is way having a coach or mentor can accelerate the companies progress and avoid the mistakes that often have to do with the people not recognizing their own biases.

2/25/2016 5:22:46 PM,
Ray Garcia replied:

I tried many times and did not succeed to get anything viable going.  The best advice I got in the early days is get a job and save your money and when you have enough saves then invest in taking whatever risk you think will make that saving worth more in the future.  What this advice was telling me was to invest in gaining the experience early on and making mistakes when other people are paying me and once I made enough mistakes and learned from them I would reduce my own risk of starting a business.