Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Nice Guy Finishes First

Alumnus entrepreneur does well, does good


Watching sailboats glide past his Tiburon home, Jon Fisher ’98 wondered whether he could gather information on them and their owners just by pointing his cell phone camera their way. The idea led him to co-found a company whose video technology enables doctors to learn lifesaving surgeries, first responders to see around walls, and authorities to monitor emergencies as they unfold.

School of Management Commencement
10 a.m., Dec. 14,
St. Ignatius Church

Fisher’s company, CrowdOptic, is the first to commercialize live streaming HD video and two-way audio over Wi-Fi and LTE. And the company’s proprietary algorithms allow its networked cameras to focus on a point, to scan the environment for anomalies, to track and monitor moving objects, or to see what’s on the other side of an obstacle by tapping into other networked cameras’ views.

“Imagine if Boston had CrowdOptic cameras installed at the time of the marathon bombing,” Fisher says. “The networked cameras could have instantly picked up the event and begun to monitor the  area so that authorities could see what was going on, the severity of the situation, and when the time came to search the archive for potential suspects.” 

Trained to save lives

CrowdOptic is ZOOM on steroids and way more mobile, says the business graduate, referring to a video conferencing program. It can even be used with video glasses and with drone cameras.

“One of the main benefits is real-time multi-video and live audio feeds that can be archived, bookmarked, and reviewed at the surgeon's discretion,” says CrowdOptic client Dr. Douglas Hampers, National Bioskills Laboratory president and CEO. 

At Bioskills — which has labs near San Francisco, Dallas, and Pittsburgh — surgeons from Harvard, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, and other institutions use staged operating rooms and CrowdOptic’s video technology to learn new procedures and train with advanced equipment — think heart surgery and robotic knee replacement. 

CrowdOptic is also used by the San Francisco Zoo to monitor and study animal behavior and is being tested by Chinese law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Sleep better at night

CrowdOptic is just the latest in a series of successful companies launched by Fisher, an adjunct business professor whose book, Strategic Entrepreneurism, is taught in a number of USF classes.

Fisher says his “path of least resistance” approach to entrepreneurship is more about building companies and less about trying to dominate competitors or markets. It also allows him to take fewer risks, enjoy more control, avoid the need to raise huge sums of capital, and balance his work and family life. 

“I don't step on people's necks to get ahead,” Fisher says. “I try never to sue or be sued. I sleep better at night. To me, it’s about doing well and doing good for the world at the same time. I want students and fellow alumni to see that path as an option rather than, or at least in addition to, the cutthroat world they might see in the movies or on television."

Fisher will talk more about his entrepreneurial vision and USF’s role in his career at the School of Management commencement Dec. 14.