Richard “Ricky” Caplin developed an interest in entrepreneurship early in life. “My mom kids that I was always spending time calculating how much things cost and understanding value early. In the back of my mind, I always thought maybe I could be CEO of a business one day.”
After working as a CPA for a few years following college, he saw his opportunity in the tech field. He founded The HCI Group of Jacksonville, which became one of the largest global healthcare IT consulting firms. In 2017, he sold it to Tech Mahindra of India, a global technology company with 117,000+ employees. Today he serves as that company’s Global CEO of Healthcare & Life Sciences.
Caplin shared his personal journey with the Club through a series of questions from Florida Commerce Secretary Jamal Sowell and later the audience. “Anyone who is an entrepreneur will probably agree that you have to be prepared to fail and get back on your feet,” Caplin said.
So how can Florida develop more high-tech industry and jobs and the venture capital to fund it? While it has a good pool of talent, Caplin said what Florida lacks is the “eco-systems” of other states, such as California and New York. And it starts with our universities. “We need to be very intentional. We’re not overly strategic, everything is very political. We need to locate our tech schools in big cities where businesses are, not in the middle of nowhere.”
He pointed to Miami as a recent example of a successful strategy in trying to capitalize on the migration of “fed-up” California and New York residents to South Florida. “Miami has more of that big city feel and the leadership there is using social media where millennials and Gen-Z tech leaders interact to engage them. That’s producing dialogue and before you know it, you’re getting invited to come tour their facilities to recruit them to Florida,” Caplin said.
While Governor DeSantis and Secretary Sowell are going to back such local efforts, Caplin said “we need mayors that are going to lead.” It’s also going to take a community-wide effort. “We’ve had luminaries in this audience who have helped us get to where we are today. How can you, as an economic club, bring some of these ideas forward? We need you as business leaders to step up and pave the way and let’s work together as a state in harmony of strategy versus letting each city compete with each other.”
Caplin also discussed the start of his family company, Caplin Family Offices, to support a growing and diverse portfolio of companies that include a civil engineering firm, an HR consulting firm, and a clinical staffing firm. He has also launched the Aurora Forge, a venture capital incubator focusing on technology, artificial intelligence, and robotics. He said that some of his companies are devoted to “spiritual entrepreneurship” where the proceeds generated go toward helping India’s poor population.