What is your background?
I’m the son of an antique dealer and a loving mother. While most kids were playing catch with their dad, I spent time working around the store and helping him at auctions. Entrepreneurship is in my DNA. The University of Rochester gave me two degrees and some tools to go with my natural instincts instilled from our family business, which I had the opportunity of running in parallel to my academic adventure.
Since then, my work has broken into three periods: first, working with a regional venture capital firm (Trillium Group), tasked with everything from janitorial to partner-level work with high-tech spinouts of University of Rochester, Kodak, Xerox, and the British Ministry of Defense and Aerospace. The experience taught me exactly how little I knew and how quickly the world makes you learn. Second, an era of performing fractional c-level consulting work for early stage companies for cash by day and for equity by night. From that, I learned that hustling is a lifesaving attribute, giving first always comes back in spades, and luck is a fickle dance partner. Most recently, I concentrated my efforts in co-founding and helping grow ACV Auctions, an experience in the significance and power of supporting teammates, the commercial art of resistance training, and that businesses run best on love.
How does your background align with the goals of Techstars?
Community. Leadership. Inclusion. Connectivity. Kinetics. Sustainability. These are my interpretation of the guiding principles of Techstars that echo in my heart. When we were discussing this opportunity, a reflection on my past ringed with giving and support, so it became an easy alignment to imagine and ultimately forge. Thematically, as a resident animal of this startup ecosystem, and like many others of my kind, I desired an opportunity to strengthen the local entrepreneurial landscape, instigate the cooperation of the regional resources, and aid the ongoing efforts to make some wrong things right.
What will this partnership's most immediate benefits to Buffalo's entrepreneurial ecosystem be?
Over the next 90 days, our focus is on sharing and embedding best practices around culture and talent. Everything is inclusive and community-focused first, so if you want to be part of it, all you need to do is get your shoes on and show up. We have a public readout event May 30 at Hotel Henry that, if you are reading this, you are encouraged to attend. We are working to get more mentors to open office hours to the community; I’m doing them 15 hours a week. The next startup weekend is May 31–June 2. Startup Week will be September 16-20, 2019. Founder’s Stories, Founder’s Workshops, and other events are scheduling out now.
What will the longer-term impacts be?
Long term, Techstars achieves success when the WNY vernacular matures and mindsets grow to supportive a more sustainable and inclusive startup ecosystem. Then potential founders will find open doors to other founders, everyone realizes they have something to give and we all are proactive mentors, and the region gains a deeper tolerance and respect for the risk takers and backs them and their causes. When resources in the area that support entrepreneurial activities multiply and unionize in interdependence, a network eager to champion the entrepreneurial spirit and startups are celebrated in success and in failure, our contribution will be noticed. Techstars is a global network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. We’re on the ground building a lasting network in Buffalo now, for a verdant community not only for entrepreneurs, but for Buffalo itself.