Complex 39

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
–Brian Tracy


For me, personally, it’s an interesting time.  Recently, I mentioned that I’m about to embark on a two-year distance-learning program for an Executive MBA at the Naval Postgraduate School, about which I’ll share more in the coming weeks.  Today, however, I’m about to share a different and interesting tidbit that has been in the works for a few months: I’m joining the Board of Advisors for Complex 39, a virtual incubator in the mobile technology space.

It’s an interesting story (well, at least to me) as to how I got to this point.

A few years ago I attended a workshop hosted by Kathy Kolbe and the Kolbe Corporation, and it was there that I met Matt Williams.  Besides sharing a last name, there were a number of other things we had in common and, at least from my perspective, proved to be a bond for us.  I was especially fascinated by Matt’s track record of creating companies from scratch, all of which are still in existence today and are making money.  You would think that being a serial entrepreneur is about as far removed from being a rocket scientist as there is.  Yet the instincts and natural talents that Matt deploys have a certain similar affinity with those I have, such as a willingness to take some risks and a desire to experiment to see “what happens” as a way to learn and affect change.  To date, I’ve just chosen to manifest them differently than through serial entrepreneurialism – I’m more of an “intrapreneur” in my role at NASA as I’ve moved from hard core “rocket science” to business models.  Somehow, Matt understood quickly what “makes me tick” and suggested a number of ideas and resources for me to use as I work towards unlocking NASA’s tremendous capabilities and resources for reimbursable commercial use.  I consumed everything he suggested, and have applied them in several situations.  Matt and I have remained in touch since that initial meeting a few years ago.  Little did I know what was to come next.

A few months ago, Matt and Keith Allaun contact me about a new venture called Complex 39 that they were starting with a third partner, Larry Slotnick.  Matt and Keith talked to me about joining their Board of Advisors.  I had never done anything like that before, so I asked for more information.  Complex 39 is about incubating ideas, concepts, and approaches in the mobile technology space for companies that might have encountered obstacles with advocacy and funding through more traditional means.  The name “Complex 39” was chosen from the launch facility at the Kennedy Space Center to help symbolize the company’s role in “launching new businesses.”  (Obviously, the name is very catching for me.)  As a member of the Board of Advisors, I would provide consultation, assessments and review of strategy, business, sales, marketing and technical plans, and advice to Complex 39 and to potential client companies.  Matt and Keith expressed a strong desire to have me on board to bring to bear all of the ideas, concepts, and perspectives that I’ve written about elsewhere here on Leading Space.  After reflecting on the offer for a while, and clearing it through the legal community, I chose to accept Matt’s and Keith’s offer.  It’s an unpaid advisory role that I will do outside my normal role at NASA.  I’m honored that Matt and Keith extended the offer to me.  Looking at the roster of the Board of Advisors, I’m excited at the prospects of working with them to help new businesses get off the ground, as well as learn more about myself and the possibilities that come from working with such innovative, creative, risk-taking people.

Like I said, it’s an interesting time.

You can read more about Complex 39 here.


Text © 2012, Joe Williams. All rights reserved.
Photo credit: “Sky and Branches” by Ana V. Ramirez via FotoPlanet, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Complex 39