Jeff Sayre is a startup entrepreneur, Social Web architect, and results-oriented leader. He is also an accomplished naturalist and avid birder (for more on that, please see, The Wilder Side of Me). He assembles Smartups for the Social Web, living and working at the intersection of the Semantic Web, Synaptic Web, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, ecology, and the singularity.
He divides his time between various smartups, thinking and writing about Humanity 2.0, and advocating for an Open InterWeb. As an Open Source advocate of all types (software, hardware, science, data, Web standards), he frequently writes about federated Social Web models concentrating in the area of user-centric control (identity, privacy, rights, data portability). As such, he has served as an invited expert to the W3C’s WebID Incubator Group and the W3C’s Federated Social Web Incubator Group. His Open Web activities are also focused on future-of-money projects and the evolution of economic models. To that end, Jeff is a charter member of the currently-active W3C Web Payments Standards Community Group.
As a business executive with a record of success in several companies, Jeff has developed diverse and solid business skills. He is a dynamic, innovative, results-oriented, performance-driven leader with proven abilities in crisis resolution, turnaround management, strategic planning and implementation, team building and mentoring, sales and marketing, operations management, budgeting and fiscal management, mergers and acquisition planning, and proactive communication. His entrepreneurial spirit, clarity of vision, and ability to build successful, motivated teams gives him the necessary tools to seek out market opportunities and take measured risks to help further a company’s vision.
What and Where I Studied
Jeff graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame, receiving two degrees: a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology and ecology in 1986 and a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree with concentrations in marketing and management information systems in 1988.
Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going
After receiving his MBA, Jeff decided to forgo the tried-and-true path of all MBAs—interviewing for a cushy, big-corporate job. Instead, he wanted to combine his love of science and his new found business skills. So he reached out to a number of the top conservation non-profits, landing a job with the National Wildlife Federation. His decision could not have been more fortuitous because it was there that he met his future wife.
Within a year of moving to Washington D.C. and meeting April, they were married. As they both had undergraduate degrees in biology and shared a common interest in conservation and natural history, they decided to pursue graduate degrees in biology—biological anthropology for April and tropical ecology for Jeff. April’s undergraduate advisor was Dr. Patricia Wright, a world-renowned primatologist. In 1990, she invited them to Madagascar to participate in a rapid assessment project, surveying the flora and fauna of a proposed national park—now called Ranomafana National park. They met a number of leading scientists during their stay, most of them counseling them not to pursue doctoral degrees as the competition for resources was too fierce and the funding too little. Jeff and April left Madagascar confused.
April decided to pursue a career writing children’s books that focus primarily on non-fiction natural history—the career she has pursued for the past twenty years. Jeff decided to shift focus back to the business world, but instead of getting a job, he would start a company.
So, in 1991, Jeff partnered with a fellow graduate-school colleague starting a then state-of-the-art database application consultancy. His business partner was a career Air Force navigator who remained in the Air Force Reserves. Soon after the first Gulf War began, his business partner was called to active duty.
Jeff then co-founded Sayre Consulting, Inc., a custom applications programming company based in the midwest. His firm worked with Fortune 500 companies to leverage the emerging power of PC-based database networks. When the Internet began to show promise as a new and powerful business tool, his firm offered some of the first website solutions to businesses in the region. He served as President and CEO until his departure in 1999.
As Jeff’s interest in conservation and natural history remained strong, when the opportunity came up in 1999 to take on a new business challenge and become a partner in a fledgling ecological consulting firm, he made the difficult decision to leave the realm of database and Internet consulting. As it turned out, his decision was fortuitous. The Internet bubble (or more accurately, the Web or dotcom bubble) was approaching its peak and his exit came at an optimum time.
Jeff transitioned to JFNew as a Director and partner at the firm, being hired initially to turn around a failing division of the company that had never turned a profit. In less than three years, he transformed the division into the most profitable division in the company (both by margin and dollars). From there, he expanded his focus to other areas of the company.
Over his six-year tenure at JFNew, Jeff was instrumental in growing the corporation’s overall revenue by more than 260% and its employee base by 275%. He helped institute yearly strategic planning and budgeting at the company, and co-wrote and co-managed the corporation’s strategic plan each year. When he left the company in the summer of 2005, it had grown into a highly profitable 150-person firm, becoming one of the leading natural resources and ecological consulting firms in the United States. In 2008, JFnew was recognized by the Wall Street Journal as a 2008 Top Small Workplaces finalists and it was acquired in 2010 by Cardno Limited.
In 2002, while still at JFNEW, he and his wife co-founded Sayre Nature Adventures, LLC, a natural-history adventure travel company that offered tours during the few weeks of vacation that Jeff took from his ecological consulting company each year. They led clients on nature adventure tours of the rainforests of Central America. Clients taking their tours were very impressed with the Sayres’ professionalism, attention to detail, and expertise.
“How was the tour? Ten out of ten! Jeff and April were superb.”
– Gretchen Woelfle, Los Angeles, CA
“This is the best trip I’ve ever taken!”
– Joyce Gray, Ft. Wayne, IN
In 2005, after months of strategic planning and visioning, Jeff and his wife decided to suspend tour operations and realign the company’s mission to leverage Jeff’s business acumen and April’s creative prowess. They saw an opportunity to create a new media company. Jeff transitioned from his partnership at JFNew to focus his full-time efforts on building and growing their newly rebranded company—SayreMedia.
Today, Jeff serves as SayreMedia’s CEO and President. As a content-production and publishing company, its focus is on harnessing the power of new Web-based media paradigms to create and deliver rich user experiences and solutions. The true core of its business is the pioneering eBook venture PubPie. It will redefine the concept of book publishing and sales in the Web 2.0 – 3.0 Internet age.
But, before Jeff could begin building SayreMedia’s new-media publishing platform, he needed to re-immerse himself into the computer world, focusing on studying the new Web-based technologies and learning some of the new programming paradigms.
As part of his learning process—and to get his family and friends involved in some creative fun—he produced a scifi video podcast series The Adventures of Thomas Brin. It has been downloaded over 1.5 million times and has even won an award.
As one of the early pioneers in the video podcasting arena, Jeff has extensive experience in new media creation and marketing. He has served as one of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ (NATAS) Blue Ribbon Judges for the Daytime Entertainment Broadband Emmy Awards and was a Charter member of NATAS’s peer group the National Academy of Media Arts & Sciences.
What Else Interests Me
Jeff also has experience and success in publishing, having co-authored two successful books with his wife: one on North American hummingbirds released by NorthWord Press in 1996; and another, an award-winning children’s picture book One is a Snail, Ten is a Crab, released in 2003. The latter was honored as an American Library Association’s 2004 Notable Children’s Book and it received the Center for Children’s Books 2003 Blue ribbon award for non-fiction.
He has extensive experience in all aspects of traditional and on-line video production and delivery. In the late 80’s and early 90’s he and his wife wanted to learn more about the “new” media at that time. So they studied video production in the evenings. This led to a short-lived company that produced nature and science videos and a pilot television series on birdwatching for a well-known, major cable TV network—they were the on-camera hosts!In their spare time—and as much for relaxation as for business—he and his wife continue to travel extensively throughout the world. They have spent countless hours in remote locations capturing sound and video recordings of some of the rarest animals on Earth. Some of their adventure destinations include Madagascar, the Galapagos Islands, Panama (7 times), Amazonian Peru, and the cloud forests of Ecuador and Costa Rica.
They are avid birders and snorkelers, love native plants, and have restored a large portion of their yard into a native savanna, prairie, and wetland ecosystem. Jeff was also instrumental in discovering and saving a rare prairie fen habitat in Michigan.