I can help you grow as a founder, tell your story, and raise money.
I started my first Internet company, SiteSpecific, in August 1995, when I was 25 years old. I have spent the past 25 years building startups in different capacities: mostly as founding CEO, but also as a VC, angel investor, board member, advisor, and mentor. I have created products and businesses across multiple industries— advertising, fintech, entertainment— while immersed in different startup cultures— NY, Silicon Valley and LA. I have experienced exits, pivots, and wind-downs, and everything in between. I have witnessed the growth of some of the best incubators— Bill Gross’s Idealab! and John Borthwick’s Betaworks— and some of the best early stage venture funds— Fred Wilson’s USV and Josh Kopelman’s First Round Capital. In 2009, I created Pier 38, the beloved startup space in SF, where Instagram, Twilio and others first began. My greatest strengths, and my deepest interests, lie at the formative stages of a startup’ s journey: those first 18-24 months when founders go from idea to product to company. The first step is choosing a really good problem to solve; one that will continue to get bigger over time, and which warrants the full attention of a diverse group of co-founders. Next is to develop a technology-enabled feature that solves this problem in a simple but non-obvious way. With an important problem, and a novel solution, the challenge becomes how to tell the story. What is the right narrative that will engage and align everybody around a core vision? How can this story be articulated as a slide deck, a spreadsheet model, development milestones and data metrics? From this emerges a minimum viable product, and— with sufficient experimentation, optimization, and luck— product market fit. As much as we want to believe that the startup process can be reduced to science, it is an innately human process: filled with messy emotions, complex motivations, and latent triggers. While skill sets, technical languages, and work experience can be easily matched on paper to form an ideal team, the reality of interpersonal dynamics— especially in the early days of a startup— requires a constantly evolving supply of empathy and pattern recognition. This is my superpower.