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How Having a Corporate Background Helps in Building a Real Estate Company

With Percy Nikora, Co-Founder

This was a technology-focused business. It was more doing some of the backend trading platform, so to speak, and it was a proprietary messaging system that we had built that were suited for financial services. So, a lot of the backend for Merrill Lynch and some of the large banks. We even had Dow Jones as a client; Reuters as a client.

We were providing this product, and, on top of that, we had some services, but we had very high-end architects. We grew the firm- it was my partner, and myself, from like two to about 40-50 people. It was really specialized expertise, and with this product that we had created, we could quickly enable them to take their legacy systems, mainframe systems, and expose those to the web.

It was called Strategic Software Systems. It's a long story, but we were actually supposed to merge with another company that was going with an IPO, and this was a few weeks before the whole Dot-Com bust. They put their IPO on hold, but at the same time, the private equity company that was sort of facilitating this stuff decided to buy us out.

The exit wasn't at that level. It was a seven-figure exit, but not ... I don't know what it was for these guys, where they put in $54 million of their own money.

The other piece that I haven't gotten into is after we sold that company, I also was investing in other private, smaller companies, as angel as an angel investor. So, I have experience seeing what works for a successful business; what doesn't work, because you see a lot of successes and failures in that space, especially with younger companies.

I also, after ... In 2001, I got a call from the CFO- sorry, the CPO of Bank of America, who had gone to Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. He said, "They want to launch this online presence and do some stuff. Why don't you come help us." At first, I wasn't that interested in it, because I was [still living in Princeton]; I was focusing more on the New York area. This was in Philadelphia. But I went to talk to him, liked what he had to say, and then I joined Wyeth, as well. So, I have a corporate background, as well as a sort of entrepreneurial background, as well. Hopefully, what I'd like to think is I can take some of the experiences of what works in a small company, understand the growing pains, try to help navigate those waters, and help grow the company.

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