Published on February 15, 2024, 8:09 am

CIOs are increasingly leaving corporate positions to start their own tech startups, leveraging their C-suite insights to solve problems they once faced themselves. The shift is driven by a growing need for IT to streamline operations, foster growth, and enhance customer experience.

Gary Hoberman, the founder and CEO of Unqork, experienced firsthand the challenges associated with technical debt during his time as an IT executive in the finance industry. He spent a significant portion of his days maintaining legacy code and dealing with vulnerabilities. Recognizing that existing solutions were not sufficient, Hoberman decided to take matters into his own hands.

Hoberman’s journey from the C-suite to startup entrepreneurship reflects a broader trend among CIOs who aim to make a bigger impact by starting from scratch outside corporate structures. These individuals have come to realize that they can have a more significant influence and tackle issues on a larger scale outside the confines of traditional enterprises.

The decision to leave behind tried-and-tested career paths and venture into startups does carry risks. Hoberman himself faced initial challenges when investors dismissed him as too old or not entrepreneurial enough. However, these setbacks did not deter him. Instead, he pinned those critical quotes on the wall at Unqork’s office as a reminder of his determination.

Although not all CIOs have strictly engineering backgrounds, they possess crucial business acumen and management skills that prove invaluable in their new ventures. Hoberman himself had successfully led large teams and managed substantial budgets before embarking on his startup journey.

One issue that Hoberman noticed throughout his career was the proliferation of low-code/no-code tools and their impact on technical debt. Rather than solving the problem, these tools often generate even more code, creating additional maintenance needs, security issues, performance problems, and room for error.

To address this problem head-on and curb technical debt, Hoberman developed an innovative solution called codeless. This as-a-Service platform delivers pre-programmed enterprise applications specifically tailored to industries like finance and insurance. Hoberman’s deep understanding of these sectors facilitated the creation of a tech stack that meets their unique needs.

The transition of talent between the enterprise and startup worlds is ongoing, with executives crossing over from large corporations to energize startups. This movement benefits both sides, as startups gain insights from experienced professionals, while enterprise executives find new avenues to tackle persistent problems.

The desire to solve recurring issues is a significant driving force for startup founders like Nicholas Kolba, CEO of Connectifi. Having witnessed financial companies struggling with interoperability issues caused by running workloads on desktop workstations, Kolba decided it was time to take matters into his own hands.

Kolba’s case underscores the importance of identifying problems rather than starting with solutions in the startup world. By recognizing a pressing need and leveraging their industry expertise, CIOs-turned-founders can develop innovative solutions that drive meaningful change.

In conclusion, CIOs are increasingly transitioning from corporate positions to create tech startups that address the problems they once faced in their previous roles. Their move signifies how IT leaders are being pushed closer to the core business, driving innovation and streamlining operations. As more CIOs leverage their insights and experiences in entrepreneurship, we can expect further advancements and disruptive solutions in the tech industry.


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