Vice President, Allied Minds
Boston-based company Allied Minds is an innovative U.S. science and technology development and commercialization company. Operating since 2006, Allied Minds forms, funds, manages and builds products and businesses based on innovative technologies developed at leading U.S. universities and federal research institutions. Allied Minds serves as a diversified holding company that supports its businesses and product development with capital, central management and shared services.
We asked John Serafini, Vice President of Allied Minds his view on venture capital investment trends, the benefits of being in Massachusetts, and the strength of the region’s talent pipeline. Serafini was recently recognized as a member of Boston Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” for his accomplishments and commitment to the Boston economy.
What trends are you seeing in venture capital investments?
In terms of specific investment themes, the convergence of the digital world with physical space is creating new “Internet of Things” opportunities. These are capable of disrupting legacy business models, but at the cost of opening up horrifying new security vulnerabilities that must be addressed.
Nationwide, we’ve seen increasing attention to cyber security as a viable investment thesis, not just for one-off investments, but as a macro core competency. Acquisition activity in the cyber security industry is particularly active for technically differentiated start-ups with high-quality development teams, creating a dearth of independent cyber security companies capable of reaching successful exit velocity at the scale of yesterday’s Palo Alto Networks and FireEye.
What are the advantages/benefits of having Boston/MA as your center of operations?
At Allied Minds, we are company builders, leveraging our unique network of universities and federal research labs to provide the intellectual property that serves as the foundation of each of our companies. Accordingly, there are few geographic locations in the US that provide a greater density of R&D centers of excellence than the larger Boston region. Such universities and federal labs produce high-quality intellectual property, hospitable incubators, and highly skilled technical teams that fuel the creation and development of our Allied Minds companies.
How does the regional financial services ecosystem affect the talent pipeline and the entrepreneurs with which you engage?
Few industries feel the brunt of targeted cyber-attacks and the burden of cyber risk management requirements more deeply than the financial services industry. Having an engaged ecosystem of financial services firms in our backyard provides our local community of Boston-based cyber security start-up companies with a variety of viable pilot partners for early stage technology testing, trials, and evaluations.
For early stage cyber security companies that are deep in the product development phase of their first commercial offering, having active and engaged pilot partners with skin in the game provides a valuable wealth of technical specifications and client requirements as well as bona fides to support eventual product roll-out and company growth.