Just a few days ago, when I was riding around with a younger Tidewater colleague of mine, I was regaling him with tales of how I did business when I was his age. I told him about my first job, as a “personal banker” at Wachovia up the road in Jacksonville, where, to meet the bank’s product sales goals (and to totally game the system), I would set up shop at the mall, WalMart, Golden Corral, Piggly Wiggly and anywhere else I could find potential customers to sell them on whatever the bank told me to.
Then, I told him about my early days in venture capital in the Triangle area, where I would literally drive through every business and office park in RTP, writing down the name of tech companies whose signs adorned the buildings. I would go back to my office to look up their websites on AltaVista (ask your parents), then I would return to their offices to introduce myself and the investment firm for which I worked.
I followed those stories up with a couple more about how I always went out to find business. Sure, I had to put in some desk and office time, but the opportunities, the needles in the haystack, the diamonds in the rough—those deals I had to go find.
And then, like a mental cocktail of irony, epiphany, déjà vu and Yahtzee, it all came to me.
So before I give you the punchline, I’m gonna look backward a bit in order to go forward. COVID. It’s been a challenging past 14-15 months. I understand the significant COVID-related issues beyond business, but, for the sake of this piece, I’m keeping it within that context.
When COVID really ginned up the collective national nerves back in March 2020, our firm, like many businesses I imagine, went into our virtual war room to run through various worst case and Armageddon scenarios. Our main focus, amidst all that planning, ended up being communication. How would we stay in touch with our investors, portfolio companies, vendors, partners, etc? There were emails and phone calls of course, but there was this product called Zoom that seemed like a much better version of Skype.
So we became Zoom warriors—or hostages depending on your point of view—with days dotted with meetings with people as close as down the street and as far away as Asia. I admit, it was nice to be able to roll out of bed, walk downstairs to my office, and hop on a Zoom call. I could even drive the 5 minutes to the Tidewater office to somehow make it seem more professional on our end. To me, though, it felt sorta like we were cheating. It felt easy, but it didn’t feel 100% "right."
Bringing it forward to a few days ago, when I was riding with my Tidewater colleague, Alex, I started to figure it out. I wasn’t really cheating or taking the easy way out. I had just been doing what was warranted under the most unusual of circumstances. But as the COVID cloud started to lift and government policy on face-to-face interaction began to relax, I realized it is time.
It is time to get back on the road and start seeing people again.
That realization took me back to my early days at the bank, basically going wherever I needed to in order to get business done. And I got really excited—this is the way that I want to do business. This is the lifeblood of our firm… Our network. Our stakeholders. Our people.
So I am back in the car and on planes. Sure, there are still Zoom calls and such, but there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction. I can already feel the roots of our network connections growing and deepening. I am doing what I should be doing—going out to the market and finding the best investors, partners, and deals. I am ready to meet with anyone who wants to work with Tidewater. Anytime, anywhere.
About Merrette Moore: Merrette Moore is the Managing Partner of Tidewater Investment Company, overseeing the operations of the firm. Merrette has over 25 years experience working in finance, company management and innovation. He has been involved in over 50 private investments, serving as the lead investment representative for many of these deals. Merrette has participated on the boards of several privately held companies either as the executive chairman, director or an observer.
About Tidewater Investment Company: Tidewater Investment Co. is a North Carolina investment firm focusing on small company direct investment as well as healthcare venture capital. Tidewater provides unique access to subordinated debt, small company private equity, growth capital, and venture capital investments for high net worth individuals, family offices, and small institutional investors. The firm’s investment platform allows investors the flexibility to invest on a deal-by-deal basis without any upfront commitment of long-term obligation.
For More Information, please visit our website: www.tidewaterinvestco.com.
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