Ocala Magazine April 2012 : 13

Q+A WITH A conversation with RAHUL RAZDAN, CEO AND CO FOUNDER, OCOOS Energizing the Economy Q: Rahul, after more than a year of planning our community’s rst business incubator, the Power Plant is opening this month. What do you think it means to our community? The Power Plant will be a key catalyst to energize the community around the development of businesses. This is especially true for Ocala/Marion County, which has a high proportion of “ghost” residents – people who live here, but work elsewhere. These “ghost” residents come from a variety of places (MI, NE, NY, etc), and are trying to figure out how to build a business life here, so that they do not have to travel as much as they do today. For four years I lived a “ghost” life between here and Silicon Valley. Finally, the Power Plant, in combination with IHMC, the upgrades to City Hall, and the new White Challis development is going to create a very dynamic downtown area. Q: You’ve created companies in Boston, Silicon Valley and now Ocala. What dis-tinguishes Ocala as a place where innova-tion can occur? Places like Boston or Silicon Valley have significant infrastructure, excellent universities, and access to capital. The other side of all of those advantages is high cost and not necessarily a great lifestyle. Ocala has the advantage of offering an outstanding lifestyle at an affordable price. Because of this, Ocala has already attracted talented individuals who can lead companies. Finally, with the proximity of the University of Florida, University of South Florida, and University of Central Florida and of course CF, there is a supply of junior talent. The combination creates an opportunity not unlike Austin, RTP, or even Silicon Valley before their growth explosion. Q: You’ve been involved in the develop-ment of e Power Plant since the idea was conceived. What does this incubator pro-vide to start ups? The primary function of the Power Plant will be to provide a centralized place for entrepreneurial business exchange. In that sense, the Power Plant is very much a virtual entity whose real value is captured by its ability to fulfill the connection function. The starting point of this virtual entity is a very nice physical facility (old Power Plant building) run by a talented director (Kevin Reed). Thus, in the beginning, the Power Plant will provide facilities, training on business functions, access to capital, access to customers, and finally a place to engage for anyone wanting to become an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur can use these services as a resident member or an affiliate member. We expect to have a large pool of both and in fact, we expect to attract candidates well beyond the immediate region. Q: e City of Ocala has declared 2012 as “ e Year of Innovation.” As the rst resident company in the Power Plant with your company Ocoos, what does that mean to you and our community? Ocoos is a high technology company in the area of internet marketing whose initial focus is in the area of adventure tourism. We want to connect service providers to customers through the use of cutting-edge technology. Thus, innovation is very much a central value of the company. The declaration and the actions of the community (IHMC, Power Plant, etc) aligns very well with our values, and is one of the main reasons we have moved to Ocala. At a more personal level, as a resident of Ocala/ Marion County, I see the declaration as that all important first step which can lead to an amazing future. Q: You have been categorized as a serial entrepreneur! How does one acquire that moniker? A serial entrepreneur is someone who has started several companies. For most of my early working life, I worked at large fortune 100 companies, and the shift to becoming an entrepreneur was a very interesting transformation. A great deal of the transformation has to do with a change in outlook which I have found best exhibited by the following definition: “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resource currently controlled.” Q: It occurs to me that this attitude is not only appropriate for a company, but also for a region. What brought you to Ocala and how do you spend your spare time? Simone, my wife, has an interest in horses. She convinced me to move down to Ocala. In my spare time, I play with my kids (Damien and Meera) who go to a great school in the area (Cornerstone), and do a bit of running. Recently, I ran the Ocala Half-Marathon, it was a great event with nice weather and a beautiful course. Jaye Baillie, President and CEO 2012 April I OCALAMAGAZINE.COM I 13

Q&A with Jaye

Rahul Razadn

Energizing the Economy<br /> <br /> Q: Rahul, after more than a year of planning our community’s rst business incubator, the Power Plant is opening this month. What do you think it means to our community?<br /> <br /> The Power Plant will be a key catalyst to energize the community around the development of businesses. This is especially true for Ocala/Marion County, which has a high proportion of “ghost” residents – people who live here, but work elsewhere. These “ghost” residents come from a variety of places (MI, NE, NY, etc), and are trying to figure out how to build a business life here, so that they do not have to travel as much as they do today.For four years I lived a “ghost” life between here and Silicon Valley. Finally, the Power Plant, in combination with IHMC, the upgrades to City Hall, and the new White Challis development is going to create a very dynamic downtown area.<br /> <br /> Q: You’ve created companies in Boston, Silicon Valley and now Ocala. What distinguishes Ocala as a place where innovation can occur?<br /> <br /> Places like Boston or Silicon Valley have significant infrastructure, excellent universities, and access to capital. The other side of all of those advantages is high cost and not necessarily a great lifestyle. Ocala has the advantage of offering an outstanding lifestyle at an affordable price. Because of this, Ocala has already attracted talented individuals who can lead companies. Finally, with the proximity of the University of Florida, University of South Florida, and University of Central Florida and of course CF, there is a supply of junior talent. The combination creates an opportunity not unlike Austin, RTP, or even Silicon Valley before their growth explosion.<br /> <br /> Q: You’ve been involved in the development of e Power Plant since the idea was conceived. What does this incubator provide to start ups?<br /> <br /> The primary function of the Power Plant will be to provide a centralized place for entrepreneurial business exchange. In that sense, the Power Plant is very much a virtual entity whose real value is captured by its ability to fulfill the connection function. The starting point of this virtual entity is a very nice physical facility (old Power Plant building) run by a talented director (Kevin Reed). Thus, in the beginning, the Power Plant will provide facilities, training on business functions, access to capital, access to customers, and finally a place to engage for anyone wanting to become an entrepreneur. The entrepreneur can use these services as a resident member or an affiliate member.We expect to have a large pool of both and in fact, we expect to attract candidates well beyond the immediate region.<br /> <br /> Q: The City of Ocala has declared 2012 as “ e Year of Innovation.” As the first resident company in the Power Plant with your company Ocoos, what does that mean to you and our community?<br /> <br /> Ocoos is a high technology company in the area of internet marketing whose initial focus is in the area of adventure tourism. We want to connect service providers to customers through the use of cutting-edge technology. Thus, innovation is very much a central value of the company. The declaration and the actions of the community (IHMC, Power Plant, etc) aligns very well with our values, and is one of the main reasons we have moved to Ocala. At a more personal level, as a resident of Ocala/ Marion County, I see the declaration as that all important first step which can lead to an amazing future.<br /> <br /> Q: You have been categorized as a serial entrepreneur! How does one acquire that moniker?<br /> <br /> A serial entrepreneur is someone who has started several companies. For most Of my early working life, I worked at large fortune 100 companies, and the shift to becoming an entrepreneur was a very interesting transformation. A great deal of the transformation has to do with a change in outlook which I have found best exhibited by the following definition: “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resource currently controlled.” <br /> <br /> Q: It occurs to me that this attitude is not only appropriate for a company, but also for a region.What brought you to Ocala and how do you spend your spare time?<br /> <br /> Simone, my wife, has an interest in horses. She convinced me to move down to Ocala. In my spare time, I play with my kids (Damien and Meera) who go to a great school in the area (Cornerstone), and do a bit of running. Recently, I ran the Ocala Half-Marathon, it was a great event with nice weather and a beautiful course.

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