BASED IN: NEW YORK + SAN FRANCISCO
What do you do?
Whiskey Me Up™ is a fun new way of discovering whiskeys (from scotches to bourbons) that are right for your Whiskey Persona™--the cooler, swankier and sexier version of yourself.
What is your background? Do you think you can learn entrepreneurship in a classroom or do you believe that you learn by getting your hands dirty?
I've always been curious and creative. Curious like always wondering how things and people worked and drilling down until I couldn't drill down any further. And, creative in the sense that I had a craving to create with my mind or my hands. Since I was a kid, I made things and tried to get people to buy into them. I wrote a "novel" when I was twelve and got all of my friends to read it and distribute it to others. Then, after college, I created 2 startups. So, I truly believe that entrepreneurship is something you get by doing, but always learning (either in classrooms or on your own) is still extremely important for growth and sustainability of a company.
What steps are crucial to take before starting your own business?
Know your audience. Understand the gap that exists, either in service or product, for your target audience. Develop a business plan, even if it's very very simple.
Make a list of all the people you'll need to help you start the business and move it forward.
What is the first business that you started? What was the most important lesson that you learned from it?
My first startup was called TechSeri.es. It was an events platform that introduced the latest people and tech changing traditional industries like fashion, music, education, etc. by bringing together startups and industry leaders in a panel in front of 150+ people. It grew very fast in New York because people craved events that were bigger than meetups but smaller than TED Talks. And, at that time, no one brought startups and industry leaders together. They were always in siloed conversations before me. My startup grew very fast in 2 years, with brands and people consistently wanting more. However, the problem for me was that I was still working a full-time job while trying to build this company. It was very hard. By the time we grew to a point where I had to make the choice of either moving forward to the next level or pausing the startup, I chose to pause. I wouldn't admit it to myself then, but it was out of fear... Fear that things were going too well. Looking back now, the most important lesson I learned was that I needed to have a board of advisers to help me navigate through real fear vs. perceived fear. Later on, many successful entrepreneurs and market leaders told me that I should have stuck it out a bit longer and the money would have come. We had built a platform that had consistently high reviews and a followership that was dedicated. It wasn't something that was easy to do. Now, in my new venture, that's what I've created--a board of advisers, some informal and some formal, that remind me of what I could achieve while keeping me tethered to reality.
What do you think about “fear”? Is it something that disappears at a certain point or do you believe that we all fear something at all times?
Fear is ever-present, especially for entrepreneurs. I don't know of any entrepreneurs who don't have some sort of underlying fear that's always there. For me, the fear is something that drives me forward. I've learned from my first startup (TechSeri.es) that fear could stop me in my tracks right before a potential big success. However, fear also keeps me in-check and ensures I'm not just dreaming in the clouds. A little bit of fear is good because it forces you to think twice before making any impulsive decisions; however, too much fear will be paralyzing. My suggestion to dealing with this is to write down all of your fears, big or small, and when you feel a bit more rational, address each fear with what you can do and what's out of your hands. This makes fear more of a list of items to fix, do, and ignore vs. a nebulous monster that keeps haunting you everyday.
Do you think it takes a special kind of person to run a business or anyone who is passionate enough about a product or a service? Is this learnable?
I think there are different people for different aspects of business. An entrepreneur might not be the best person to run a business because you're chasing the dream. A person who knows how to run things and manage people might not be creative enough to think outside the box and create something innovative. I believe management can be learned, but there are natural born leaders who can run a company and build a team better than others. And, I believe creativity can be learned as well, but, again, certain people are born with the curiosity to connect things that didn't connect before. This is why you need at least two people to run/start a business. You need the creative person to think and develop and you need the business person to operationalize the business and build a team.