Hubert Delany’s career as a Technology executive; Industry Analyst; Software Engineer; Consultant and Entrepreneur spans over thirty-five years of the computer industry. He is the creator of the Replevin Transaction Server (RTS) legal process management system used by Con Edison, New York City’s power company and one of the largest utilities in the world. Under his company ExoTool, LLC Mr. Delany developed the ExoToolTM AI-enabled web-based Rapid Mobile Application Development (RMAD) System that dramatically reduces the time and expense associated with full-stack web and mobile software development.
Mr. Delany has served as CTO of multiple of software companies Backweb Technologies, CALM Energy, Inc., including G2X (Navagate), Inc, DeliverEx, and Onyx Sciences Corporation. Mr. Delany served as Vice President of Equity Research at Lazard Freres, providing investment guidance and strategy advice to institutional software investors and advising on corporate mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Delany also served as Research Director of the Gartner Group, where he was an advisor to IT executives across the Fortune 1000 in the areas of High-Performance Computing, Advanced Technologies and Internet Strategy. The first Gartner analyst to use the Internet, he was instrumental in launching Gartner Group’s Internet Strategies service. An expert in graphics and visualization for SIMD massively parallel supercomputers, Business Process Management, and Peer to Peer networking, Mr. Delany is an author of numerous patents and publications and has worked with many of the foremost research institutions and government laboratories in the world. His work has been featured in such publications as Supercomputing Review, Scientific American, and Time Magazine; at major industry conferences, and before key government audiences including the U.S. Congressional Institute for the Future.
Mr. Delany holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT (’86) and attended graduate studies at MIT’s Media Laboratory. He served on the faculty of the Columbia University as Director of Technology Development for the Center for Computational Learning Systems, a research group focused on AI and Machine Learning. His organization affiliations include the CTO Club of New York City, Stamford Yacht Club, Oceanie Sailing Foundation (Founder and Executive Director), Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, and the Free and Accepted Masons of New York.
What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
Well for many years as a technologist I took the conventional route, working for companies as an employee. At that time I was in the massively parallel supercomputer field, which sort of collapsed in the early 90s. When many of the companies I worked with filed chapter 11, myself and quite a few of my colleagues became disenchanted. We all thought, “Hey, we did our jobs right, so why the failure?” It was then that I realize that I needed to take matters into my own hands and play a more active role in the business side . As an entrepreneur the risks you take are under your control.
What were the biggest initial hurdles and how did you overcome them?
There’s a lot of inertia in technology – organizations tend to want to continue to work with the same companies and platforms they’ve worked with before. If you’re a tech innovator it can be really difficult to get organizations to try something new, even if what you offer is a superior technology. The “better mousetrap” theory really applies: you have to offer something that is so much better that it justifies the customer making a change and taking a risk.
What are 3 tips you can share with our readers as it relates to your industry?
Working as an analyst for a few years taught me a great deal about how companies make decisions, and that has served me well. Entrepreneurs really need to understand the role they play and how they fit in that industry. So the first tip I would give is to do your homework, know your intended customers really well so you understand not only your value proposition, but the realities of adoption.
Second, Problems, not solutions, are the life-blood of our industry – As a technology innovator, knowing what problems to solve is critical. You need a barrier to entry. Focus on solving tough problems because they are lucrative. On the other hand, don’t try to “boil the ocean” – meaning dont pick something so ambitious that you’ll never get to market. In my view you have to choose problems that are hard enough to be worth solving, but not impossible either.
Third, realize that the money in tech has attracted a lot of new players, but the average highly skilled software started their training and experience before age 13. Hire highly experienced Software Engineers with deep skills to preserve your company. We call them “full-stack rock stars”. Find the best people you can find, pay them what they are worth or more, and demand results. You wont be sorry.
How do you differentiate yourself from others in your field?
Well first, I consider myself a maverick engineer. I’ve become known for doing things people thought couldn’t be done, and differently than everyone else does. I’ve prided myself on having and maintaining a variety of skills. For example, at MIT I majored in Electrical Engineering instead of Computer Science because I wanted to understand the computer all the way down to the chip level. Since then, Ive programmed almost anything that can be programmed. I sought out business and financial knowledge because I wanted to be able to create solutions that were not only innovative but strategically valuable, something I call “strategic engineering”. There’s a lot of re-use in software where people save effort by using the same old packaged libraries, solutions etc. but this tends to tie peopl’e hands and force them to live with constraints. I dont have any constraints
What was the biggest business mistake you made and what did you do to learn from it?
I was once offered a partner position at Earnst and Young’s IT consulting division and I turned it down because a colleague told me that it should have been for more money. Soon after, E&Y was sold to Cap Gemini and my partner’s share would have translated into an insane amount of money. I learned (A) be careful whose advice you listen to a (B) Don’t’get greedy.
How did you deal with push back from family or friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?
There’s a fine line between crazy and brillant. I learned the hard way that if I tell my family about all my crazy ideas they’ll think I’m crazy. If I only tell them about the ones that work out, they think I’m brilliant. So now I only tell them about the ones that work out. Edison once said he really didnt invent the light bulb – he invented 999 ways of *not* making a light bulb .
We are entering an era where everyone is interested in multiple income streams. How does one decide on a business to pursue?
Being in a role that is a natural fit for you is a huge force multiplier. You can’t choose something just because it’s lucrative. If you choose to do something you have a natural talent for, deep knowledge of, or at least a love for, you will be much more likely to succeed. As for diversifying, achieve diversity of income within the same theme. For example, you might start with restaurants, and move on to restaurant supply. Still sticking to the same industry, but leveraging your experience and knowledge to gain another position. Many successfuly people have multiple businesses but within the same general industry, and I think that is a good model. So pick an industry that interests you and then seek diversity of opportunity within it.