Logbook: 2017 recap & building the foundation of Nautilus Labs

Personal thoughts on the journey

For those that know me well, I like to take a step back at critical points in my life and reflect on what’s happened every now and again.

For those that really know me, they know I often get emotional during these moments. As I was writing this, please know I was filled with joy and gratitude for the amazing people that were a part of my life.

I feel very blessed to be afforded the opportunities that have unfolded over the course of the year.

I did the same thing last year, and hope to continue doing this annually.


2017 was the first full year of Nautilus existence — it was all about building the foundation for what will be a very large company in the next few years.

I singlehandedly learned more in 2017 than any other year in my life. This was one of the most challenging and most rewarding feelings I’ve had to date.

The largest contributor to that is the incredible team that’s rallied around the company and mission. They are far more talented than I am and if there’s one thing I’m particularly proud of, it’s them and what we’ve all been able to do together. I’m confident we have one of the most talent-dense technology teams in the maritime software world.

Then again, I’m biased ;)

As with any seed stage business, there were risks and unknowns that we were focused on either de-risking, or learning more about this year. Many were about the market — maritime technology — which has been a largely un-tapped and underrepresented area for modern software companies, especially high-growth venture-backed companies such as Nautilus. The other area was around understanding how to sell into this market and integrating hardware onto ships. These are non-trivial and frankly have not really been do well in the past.

I’m extremely proud we appropriately addressed all of them.

That being said, we still have a long way to go and this is just the beginning.

Professional

Professionally — this was one of the most spectacular years of my life.

I’m proud to say we’ve amassed a stellar team of 12. Much of that was learning how to go about building that team and opening my own horizons and understanding of how to do that well.

There’s something magical about building a great team as I’m sure many founders would say. It instills an incredible confidence that’s really hard to put to words.

2017 also marked the beginning of the never-ending process of learning how to be a great business and team leader. It’s easily the most rewarding and difficult thing I’ve encountered along the journey (not surprisingly). I have a long way to go — but I’m so excited to continue pushing myself to improve.

Thinking about my past experiences as the Senior Patrol Leader of my Boy Scout troop, or as the president of my senior class, or any of the obscure leadership positions I’ve had in the past — this is on the most rewarding and difficult things I’ve done.

I’m excited by the people that are around me to continue pushing me to grow.

Some other notable points:

  • Nautilus logged a total of 250,000 nautical miles in 2017. That includes more than just navigational information, but also key machinery and operational data streams from 45+ different sensors on board each vessel. To put it in perspective, in Jan 2017 we had logged zero.
  • This was the first year I’ve ever had a consistent salary — very proud that Nautilus get’s that stamp.
  • I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet some of the most talented and well connected investors we could have ever hoped for — and we successfully raised $2m in March. We kept this very hush hush intentionally. I’m lucky enough to call many of them friends now.
  • I’ve seen so much of the world this year. I’ve been to Houston, Baltimore, Amsterdam, London, Glasgow, and Hamburg. It’s weird to think before Nautilus began, I hadn’t really left the United States.
  • I even got the opportunity to travel on a commercial ship across the gulf of Mexico from Houston to Panama.
  • The team got to see what it was like to actually go on a ship.

And so so much more I just haven’t had time to write up.

Personal

As one could expect, Nautilus took up basically all of my mental and emotional energy. That was required this first year as we were laying the groundwork.

However, that did come at a personal expense. I definitely did not take the time to nurture the important pre-existing relationships in my life that mattered most.

There were some incredible people who entered and exited my life. For better or worse — I learned so much from them about myself. For that, I’m so thankful.

In 2018, I want to make sure I put more effort toward maintaining these key critical relationships with friends and family. Of course, the nature of my job doesn’t always give me the ability to do this consistently. But when I do have a bit more bandwidth I want to make sure I’m making the appropriate effort.

I’m still adjusting to this new life I’m living. Subsequently, I changed as a person this past year:

  • I’m much more tempered. I still have my signature enthusiasm and energy, but I’m learning to control it’s outpour into the world — a much needed change :) I’m sure this will continue to develop.
  • I’m much more straightforward than I used to be. Which I believe plays into my next point:
  • I became much more picky with my time. This meant cutting out a lot of “noise” in my life, and spending more time with the very few people I hold very dear to me which I still didn’t do a great job maintaining (as I said above). The small amount of available free time I do have has become extremely valuable.

Some high level thoughts and trends on tech I’ve been personally thinking a lot about:

  • I’ve become highly skeptical of what being continually connected through social media is doing to my own psyche and happiness. What’s ironic — I wrote the first draft of this before the early 2018 backlash on Apple’s phone addiction and Facebook’s recent realization that it needs to be “fixed”.
  • Crypto…just… wow. I’m a strong believer in the blockchain as a platform. There’s definitely adjustments and improvements that still need ironing out, but it’s been a fun journey to watch and pontificate how it can be used and leveraged in the tech industry as well as traditional places.
  • We need more businesses at the fringe of generally accepted tech opportunities getting built & funded. There are a myriad of enormous world problems that need to be solved. We’ve reached this point in the tech industry where solutions can be reliably deployed virtually anywhere, and I don’t just mean physically. The “frontiers” are now approachable — meaning problems otherwise thought crazy to attack. I largely believe technology will render the solutions to most of the world’s larger problems— especially given the state of world politics which doesn’t seem to be heading in the right direction. I would challenge any entrepreneur to seriously ask if they’re building something the world really NEEDS. Not necessarily something that is following the hottest trends. I want to meet people that are working on these “traditionally weird” problems. The problems that people scoff at. There are thousands of great businesses being built that will make money and of course that’s always the goal and imperative. But let’s elevate the kinds of problems the tech industry is solving for the world — because the reality is we’re some of the luckiest and largest change agents the world has right now. Don’t forget.

Anyhoo —I’m so indebted and grateful to the people that have stood by me through thick and thin. They’ve been a true blessing. Thank you thank you thank you.

I want to continue improving my ability to scale in both a professional and personal sense and that’s going to require efforts on both fronts. Efforts I’m ready and excited to start implementing. Friends please keep calling me out, keep giving me feedback!

It’s funny how life and business are all about finding and keeping amazing, talented, and happy people close to you and I feel lucky to be able to say I’ve found so many of them.

Back to building!

Anthony — over and out.