WTD Backstory- Part 3; My Later Days with CenTradeX

This article continues a series of articles that chronicles my (Robert Thompson) personal and professional journey into the International Trade arena as well as the background of WorldTradeDaily.com.

We (CenTradeX) vastly expanded and improved our technology, databases and product lines. We began to attract the interest of major players in several industries. During the summer of 2008, a top venture capital group made a deal to apprehend $20 million through direct investments as well as another $20 million generated via new sales within their “network”.

Their stated objective was to take CenTradeX public within three to five years. The process included the installation of professional management, shoring up our infrastructure, a laser focused marketing and sales strategy and exclusive attention given to the commercial sectors versus our previous book of business, largely comprised of non-profits and custom development projects. In their opinion, I had been using “diamonds to cut paper.”

All this sounded quite heady and nice. However, in the process two things happened.

The typical venture capitalist loves to "invest" in promising start-ups.

First, since they were contemptuous of my personal penchant toward the inventive and the philanthropic, I eventually found myself losing my sense of vision, passion and interest, which hitherto kept me warm through the night. Thus I began the process of management transition leading to my semi-retirement.

Secondly, the official Nashville “signing” party, got postponed several times, due to the difficulty in lassoing all the key players and herding them into the same “remote” venue. Press releases had been prepared for weeks. In the meantime, as the fates would have it, an unprecedented global melt down within the financial sector occurred. BAM! See all the VCs scurrying back into their little dark holes.

The bleak winter of 2008. The adoring VCs had altogether disappeared. Several hundred thousand dollars in pending CenTradeX sales evaporated overnight. I had begun the process of semi-retirement. Recently divorced after a 30-year marriage, as in the musical Oliver, I was indeed “reviewing the situation”. After some extended beachfront soul searching in Florida, I crafted a plan.

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