SIMBA Chain CEO Joel Neidig recently did a one-on-one with Michael Novak, a digital transformation expert, certified blockchain consultant, and member of the MIT Enterprise Forum who recently joined the company as Senior Director of Market Development.

Michael Novak, Senior Director of Market Development

JN: I should have asked this during your interview: How did a guy with a degree in political science become an expert in IoT, Voice AI, and Blockchain?

MN: The short answer is that early in my career working for NGOs and consulting firms, I learned that to stay current, I have to always look ahead. Digital transformation requires a broad set of not only technical knowledge on IoT, Voice AI and Blockchain, but also business and people skills. These skills served me well while rising through the ranks at global enterprise software firms. I read quite a bit, stay active in the Open Voice Network, MIT Enterprise Forum, and Government Blockchain Association (GBA), and speak at conferences.

JN: Have you ever worked with startups in the past?

MN: Yes. I’ve coached startups and SMBs on building outreach campaigns to their developer communities, growing sales pipeline and leveraging enterprise partner assets. Recently, I’ve consulted with startups on developing go-to-market strategies and sharpening their blockchain solution business value in healthcare, supply chain, operations, and identity management areas. I’m also a board member of MIT Enterprise Forum whose mission is to inform, connect and coach technology entrepreneurs, enabling them to rapidly transform ideas into world-changing companies. Our chapter has a history of leading programs targeted at local DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) start-ups, high technology businesses and investors.

JN: What excites you about blockchain and its application in the public and private sectors?

MN: While still evolving, we’re finally getting past the initial “hype” phase.  Potential users in government, commerce, and operations are giving it a second look to determine which use cases may work best. I believe it is foundational; it can provide benefits across all business functions by reducing costs and creating new business models, key tenants of digital transformation. It’s up to companies like SIMBA Chain with their focus on blockchain smart contracts to open the market.  SIMBA Chain’s recent deals with the U.S. Navy and Air Force are a huge acknowledgement of tangible value, but I’m excited about uncovering new direct and partner opportunities in logistics, healthcare, identity, and smart cities. I firmly believe that blockchain and smart contracts can improve business processes and help organizations’ digital transformation strategies succeed.

JN: What attracted you to SIMBA Chain?

MN: As a GBA board member, I first learned about SIMBA Chain a few years ago. I tested their low code Smart Contract Designer and was impressed by the technical workflow and functionality. While other tools only have a command line Interface, SIMBA Chain Designer UI let me quickly create smart contract business rules and distributed applications (dapps) by dragging and dropping assets and action objects on a canvas. In addition, the smart contracts are abstracted from the underlying blockchain, allowing them to be written once and deployed to multiple blockchain platforms like Ethereum and Stellar. This improves developer productivity, scalability and reduces lifecycle maintenance, version management and governance.  All key factors for SMB and enterprise customers.

JN: What are your responsibilities at SIMBA?

MN: My primary assignment is business development, GTM and sales.  We are lean, agile and hungry!  As a startup, flexibility is key; I’m also helping with operations and product management.  But growing our base in the Fortune 1000 mid-market with enterprise partners and customers comes first.

JN: What do you see as SIMBA’s biggest opportunities?

MN: Any business function that must satisfy compliance, auditability, and accountability standards is a potential customer. That’s one of our advantages; we are nimble enough to take all comers and able to scale to meet their needs. Our value proposition is compelling; we accelerate smart contract adoption so customers can deploy solutions quickly and reduce lifecycle costs.

I’ve also worked on Smart Cities (aka Intelligent Community) projects that are focused on making technology work for their residents. From Mobility on Demand, Smart Infrastructure and other Accessibility initiatives, smart contracts have the capability to reduce reaction time during disasters, track assets, and flag fraud, waste and abuse.

JN: Will you be relocating to South Bend, Indiana?

MN: The SIMBA Chain team is global and makes liberal use of collaboration tools, so I’ll stay in Arlington, Virginia. The region is a hub for policy and public sector agencies and home to businesses such as Under Armour, CapitalOne, ComScore, Mars, Nestlé USA, Volkswagen Group of America, and most recently Amazon HQ2.

JN: What do you do in your downtime?

MN: Downtime?  In a startup?  That’s a tough question! My days are pretty full staying up to speed on industry developments, developing strategies and SIMBA Chain customers. I do enjoy biking, playing and watching soccer, and spending time with my family. That last one is my favorite downtime activity.