1) Whats your backstory?
I grew up in Brooklyn to an orthodox Jewish family as the 3rd of 9 children. As I progressed through school, the academics focused more and more heavily on Jewish studies. I, however, always envisioned a life for myself outside of that world.
I was hungry to succeed and fortunately for me, my brother a few years older than I, had started his own business at a young age. Seeing his growth allowed me to combine my hunger with a sense of possibility and the world opened up.
2) What inspired you to transition from tech investing to people investing?
Initially when I began investing in other companies, the major focus was on ways to earn money and I believed technology to be the avenue to accomplish that. My business was built at the intersection of mobile and e-Commerce and seeing technology revolutionize industries excited me and made me lean in that direction.
Now, I look at my investments as an opportunity to bring ideas or businesses to market that may not otherwise have the opportunity. In my investments I enjoy doing work that I believe wouldn’t happen if not for my involvement.
3) Was this something part of what inspired you and what you were looking for in tech investing in the first place? If so, did you find it?
There are a lot of studies that conclude that millennials want meaning in their work. They want their job to be more about simply earning money but also to have a positive impact on the world. Perhaps millennial investors are the same way. Can we make money while injecting meaning into our investments is a question I find myself asking – and I imagine others do too.
4) What is MicDrop all about and why are you inspired by this movement?
MicDrop is one of my most recent investments and I’m glad you referred to it as a movement because I see it that way too. In my own life, I’ve found tremendous relief when letting go of the facade that I felt forced to wear for so long. The facade that I have everything figured out, that I’m a little more machine than human. I see MicDrop as a way to bring all of us to our work. We each have fascinating stories and buried in those stories are pearls of passion, meaning and purpose waiting to be explored. For a long time the message in corporate environments was to leave our personal baggage at the door. MicDrop is a movement that believes unpacking our baggage as a way to lead inspired lives is probably the best thing we can do for our companies.
5) How would micdrop helped you when growing you and your brother’s business?
In many ways it has which is why I invested in it. I started as a customer and became an investor. But it would’ve been great to find it earlier. I’m a fan of Simon Sinek’s work and his reminder that a team is a group of people who trust each other, not just a group of people who work together is a central theme behind MicDrop. One of the best ways to get a team to trust each other is to share what we are really all about.
I’ve learned things about my co-workers that I would have never imagined and it’s led to me respecting them more, appreciating more and valuing them more.
6) What are the main people focused lessons you’ve learned from your time building companies and investing in them?
We are all hungry for a lot of the same stuff. We want to know that others care for us, that we are part of something larger and that our lives and work mean something. Leaders who are able to communicate that they care for their team members and that their work is part of a larger and more meaningful purpose are able to get deeper engagement and commitment from their team.
It was somewhat of an ah-ha moment for me when I realized that people build technology and not the other way around.
7) What did/do you look for whenever you’ve been involved in making investments? How can Tech entrepreneurs learn from this?
Outside of investments in public companies, I want to know the people I’m investing in and where their passion lies. I love investing in passion because passion has a staying power beyond all else.
As an example, I’ve done work with David Schottenstien who has a passion for bringing luxury goods to the average person, almost as a way to demystify luxury. Several of his investments and startups have been a variation of this theme and where that passion has the ability to express itself, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
8) whats the main shift in purpose and focus and what you have learned that will lead to a difference in what you chose to invest in moving forward?
I see myself continuing to invest both passively and actively. Passive investments are great and there are many wealth and investment managers for that who do a phenomenal job. For the investments that I get actively involved with, I want to know that I am supporting someone’s passion or my own – ideally both.
9) Whats the beauty you’ve seen come from building mic drop and how has it changed your life?
There’s a feeling I get each time I see someone take the stage, doing something they never thought was possible and announcing to the world that they’ve arrived. This feeling never gets old. Knowing that this is possible to achieve has changed the way I go to work every day.
There’s a business I’ve been involved with which I absolutely love, Charidy. It helps non-profits raise money. I’ve followed their growth very closely although I am not an investor. I love that they started this as a business because ultimately it’s forced them to build a much better product than they would’ve built if they launched it as a non-profit.
These types of businesses and investments are possible and experiencing that first hand has changed me.
10) Whats your vision for the future of mic drop and what it will accomplish?
I envision MicDrop being standard within companies. Today it is somewhat new and companies have questions around the benefits of encouraging their staff members to share their stories. We’ve been conditioned for so many years in the opposite direction.
Judging from the early success of the business, a movement is brewing that has the potential to change the way corporations relate with their employees and vice versa. My favorite customers are the most skeptical ones because they go on to become MicDrop evangelists.
One day, in the not-too-distant future, when corporations see it as obvious that investing in their employees in this way is good business, my primary objective and vision for MicDrop will have been accomplished.
11) Do you think there’s ways that we can accomplish such feats in technology as well? How could creators incorporate a consciousness that brings such value to people’s lives in technology while also ensuring the companies are attractive as an investment opportunity?
One advantage we have today that wasn’t always with us is how patient investors are when it comes to profitability. If investors see growth, traction or significant potential to expand beyond where a company is today, they will stay in the pocket even if the path to profitability isn’t 100% clear.
I think the time is as good as any for founders and entrepreneurs to look at ways to truly express their passion through their business and find like-minded investors to partner with.