Bob Fabbio’s passion for innovation
paved the way to business success
Entrepreneurs are a breed apart.
“I don’t think people decide to be entrepreneurs,” says
Bob Fabbio ’85 (M.S., computer science). “It’s
in your DNA. You either have the courage and drive or you don’t.”
If that’s the case, then Fabbio has a good supply of entrepreneur
In 1989, Fabbio founded Tivoli Systems, which, after a successful
IPO, was acquired by IBM in 1996 for $745 million. He later founded
DAZEL Corp., which was sold to Hewlett-Packard for more than
$180 million. Fabbio also co-founded Ventix Systems, which merged
with Motive Communications in 2000, then went public.
His passion for developing businesses led him into five years
as a venture capitalist. He established the Austin office of
TL Ventures in 1998.
Now Fabbio is president and CEO of Cesura Inc., founded in 2005.
The Austin, Texas-based company, is an innovator of a high-value,
low-risk managed service that guarantees that users of critical
applications will be disrupted far fewer times and when they
are, for less time.
In recognition of his success in building world-class businesses,
Fabbio was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the
Year Award in 1997 and has subsequently served as a judge for
awards. He was on Digital South magazine’s 1999 list of “Most
Influential People In the South’s New Economy” and
Forbes magazine’s 2002 Midas List of the “Top 100
Technology Venture Investors (Technology’s Top 100 Dealmakers).”
Among his admirers is Jorge Diaz-Herrera, dean of RIT’s
B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences.
“Bob continues to challenge conventional methods and applications
by understanding his customers’ needs and the limitations
imposed by their use of current technologies,” says Diaz-Herrera.
“His approach at Cesura is just another example of Bob being
first to market with innovation that will certainly change the
way the industry thinks about system performance and the bottom
Starting at RIT
The roots of Fabbio’s success were nurtured at RIT, where
he earned a graduate degree while working for Eastman Kodak Company.
The database technology he developed as part of his master’s
work became the basis of his first entrepreneurial idea, eventually
put to use at Massachusetts-based Applix Inc. – “My
first foray into a startup.” He was the 14th employee
and stayed with the company for almost three years, until Prime
Computers lured him away. Fabbio ultimately left Massachusetts
and moved to Austin to work for IBM in 1987.
In the past two decades, Fabbio has accumulated vast insights
into the entrepreneurial process. At this point in his life,
he enjoys sharing what he’s learned. He has been invited
to join the RIT Board of Trustees. Late last year, he spent a
day at RIT giving talks about what it takes to launch and grow
a successful business.
Fabbio’s lesson one: A terrific innovation is not enough.
“What you need to know,” he says, “is who will
pay money for it?”
In order to succeed, the innovation – be it a better mousetrap
or a better computer mouse – must create business opportunities
and make money. That may seem obvious, but, says Fabbio, “Often,
creative people focus solely on their invention and ignore the
business aspects. That’s one of the biggest reasons
why businesses fail.”
Success depends on the convergence of many elements – including
vision, leadership, planning, execution, and – oh,
yes – luck.
But of all the key factors, Fabbio believes the human element
is the most important.
“People are the key ingredient in any young enterprise,” he
says. “The hardest part is finding the right people, people
who fit and thrive in an entrepreneurial culture you care about.”
What does he look for?
Passion, confidence, courage, relentless pursuit of excellence,
integrity, strong work ethic and a willingness to explore possibilities
are some of the qualities he considers essential in a good
A would-be entrepreneur also needs to do some serious soul-searching
and honestly assess his or her personal resources.
“Launching a business takes everything you have, every day,” Fabbio
continues. “It’s like training for the Olympics.”
The “reformed workaholic” did not take a vacation for
14 years, but he has learned the importance of balance. These days,
he says he makes a point of taking vacations, taking weekends,
stepping back and clearing his head – and he admits that
for him, this is easier said than done.
“It can be difficult for people with technical backgrounds
to expand and grow to have the skills needed to lead
says. “People with technical backgrounds often
have less developed social skills, and that would be
me earlier on in my career. The whole area of human
psychology – I spent a lot
of time on that. It started with learning about me.”
These days, he pursues a variety of interests off the
job: water sports, ballroom dancing, live music, exercise,
reading, movies, fine dining, wine, architecture.
So far, none of those activities has enticed him to give up
the business world.
Is there another startup in Fabbio’s future? He doesn’t
rule it out.
“I’ve tried to retire twice. I used to say that I wanted
to be financially able to retire by the time I was 45. I reached
that goal at 38,” he says, “so I haven’t needed
to work in quite a while.
“But I can’t imagine what I would rather do. It’s
fun. It’s still fun. I love what I do. And I love giving
back to those that have the courage and drive to pursue their dreams.”
|Cesura gift helps RIT students
RIT’s B. Thomas Golisano College
of Computing and Information Sciences will receive a collection
of patent-pending Cesura Business Certainty equipment, training
and support worth $710,000 to be used toward the establishment
of a Business Certainty Laboratory.
This leading-edge technology will help students better understand
real-world business disruption issues and how to solve
them, providing experience about the alignment of business
and information technology.
Cesura is excited about RIT’s planned use of a Business
Certainty Laboratory,” says Bob Fabbio ’85,
president and CEO of Cesura. “As a graduate of RIT,
particularly pleased to support the education of tomorrow’s
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