Bob Hicks: It's Not Either/Or, It's Both

Bob Hicks gets it. After 20 years in corporate finance and the new venture startup industry in New York City, he's back in State College serving as CEO of PerseaNaturals, a company that produces natural food colors from avocado seeds, and as part-time Presbyterian minister in the fly-fishing capital of the state.

When asked about the transition from New York City to Happy Valley, from big finance to a startup in Innovation Park, his answer is simple. It's not either/or, it's both.

“I am of the mindset that working in small as well as large companies can be a great experience. This plays into the atmosphere at Innovation Park. Yes, we are startups but we are utilizing the tremendous research assets and people of PSU. I think we need both – working in unison – to make this a great success.”

It doesn't just apply to business, either. He points out that State College's perks, that range from state parks and fly fishing to great public schools and farm-to-table restaurants, are a direct result of a world-class university nestled in farmland.

“It produces a tremendous diversity of thought and life philosophies,” Bob says. “It is my experience as a part-time minister and working with nonprofits that compassion and generosity are abundant throughout the community, which makes for a special place to work and live.”

Persea Naturals LLC seems to live by this harmonious dichotomy as well with Avocolor, its initial  invention. It was discovered at Penn State using a new process that creats a compound from avocado seeds where the end result is a wide range of natural food colors. The vibrant hues range from red to orange to yellow. It is being marketed to food companies now as a stable, marketable substitute for artificial colorant made from natural ingredients. It is stable against heat, PH, light and oxygen, something that many colorants can not do.

Bob was with AT&T Capital/Newcourt Capital/CIT Group for 20 years in various leadership positions, including the Managing Director, European Head of Media and Communications. He co-led the formation of DB MidMarket Capital, a startup M&A finance business for Deutsche Bank. He served as Asset Manager for Allied Capital, with over $3.0B in loan assets under management.

He provides leadership to Persea Naturals LLC in the areas of strategic development, corporate development, operations, sales/marketing and finance. When he's not at work he serves on various community boards, while also shepherding the church community in Upper Spruce Creek. As he says, why be either/or when you can be both?