Dr. John Serri has more than 40 years of high tech business experience.
He received a BS in Math and Physics from the University of Albany and a Physics PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Early in Dr. Serri’s career, he conducted physics research at MIT and Bell Laboratories. Some of the basic laser spectroscopy methods he helped to develop at MIT led to a Noble Prize in physics for one of his colleagues in 1997. Later he designed secure networks for the U.S. Government and was one of the main architects and developer of Globalstar, today one of the world’s largest satellite mobile device networks.
Dr. Serri has published over fifteen peer reviewed articles in physics, chemistry, and engineering, and has served as a professor of computer science and astronomy. He holds patents in satellite communications technology and optical devices. He is also an accomplished key board artist and composer.
Q: What would you like to see your team accomplish in 2019?
At EyeQue, the company I co-founded in 2015, we are developing this brand-new market of at-home vision testing and developing a number of ground-breaking technologies in vision care and diagnostics. I want each EyeQue team member to gain personal growth. I tell all of our employees that it’s my goal to see them come out of EyeQue better than they came into EyeQue. That growth will result in professional accomplishments that each person across the organization should feel proud of.
Q: Who is your role model or hero?
Franklin D. Roosevelt is one of my heroes. FDR inherited an incredibly bad economy and a world in upheaval. He inspired the nation to look at things in a positive way. Under his agile leadership the world recovered, and the US became a world leader that helped foster a period of incredible global prosperity that we are still benefiting from. He was selfless and driven and in his time probably under appreciated by many.
I admire his ability to deal with many different problems at the same time, and motivate people to rise up, look forward, and believe in themselves to do great things.
Q: What is your favorite book?
I am still a physics nerd. I do like Stephen Hawking’s 2001 book, “The Universe in a Nutshell”. I am impressed by his ability to explain really complicated concepts in a simple way. If you can explain something in a simple way, it means you really understand it. I recommend the book for anyone who wants to understand the current frontiers in physics.
Q: Do you use any specific method or system to run daily operations?
Yes I do. I adhere to an open communication policy that includes an all hands meeting once a week to update all employees on company progress and to get feedback. I also hold a daily synch-up meeting with management and project leaders every weekday morning to address near term milestones and issues. I also require each person to write a weekly status report of their accomplishments, progress, and plans. All of this may sound boring and overly dogmatic, but it has proven to be a valuable communications tool for the company and instills a culture of accountability. Plus, these reports are compiled and published weekly and serve as a living document of the history of EyeQue.
Overall for a relatively small company we do have policies and practices you would normally associate with a large public company, but it works for us and helps prepare our team for the large-scale growth we intend to achieve.
We launched EyeQue with the simple but ambitious goal of creating low cost vision testing using smartphones that just about anyone could afford.
~ Dr. John Serri
Q: Why did you choose your present industry at this time?
Great question. For much of my career I was involved in large corporate and government projects. As I thought about what I would do next, I decided that I wanted to do something that had a more direct impact on people. Casually speaking with a friend, Tibor Laczay, we came up with the idea to improve the eyecare industry which remains fairly stagnant from a technology perspective. We launched EyeQue with the simple, but ambitious goal of creating low cost vision testing using smartphones that just about anyone could afford. Much of the world is highly underserved when it comes to receiving eyecare and being able to correct their vision. Having a background in management, optics, and software made building EyeQue a natural progression for me career-wise.
Q: What is the best/worst moment you can remember in your career?
I think that the best moments are still ahead. But of course, I’ve had my fair share of bad moments and good moments over my 44 year career. I can say that EyeQue has brought to me some incredibly proud moments. For example, when within our first year of operation, our first product the Personal Vision Tracker was awarded the top honor – a Best of Innovations award – at the International CES show. That was a moment of pride that I could share with each and every person on our small but mighty team. Some of the worst moments I have had occurred when promising projects met their demise because of funding cuts; but that is life.
Q: Looking back - if you could advise a younger version of yourself to do something different - what would it be?
If I were to advise a younger me, I would tell myself to get involved in a start-up earlier on in my career. I am probably one of the oldest start-up entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley at the moment, but I tell people “better late than never” when they ask why am I doing this.
But one other piece of professional advice: get some good mentoring in a large company, understand how business is done before starting on your own to do something you really love. The formal large company experience will help a great deal when you are on your own, it instills patience, logic, ability to work with others.