TechStars Series: How CrowdTwist Landed Their BIG Clients

How does a founder who felt like he could never come up with a business idea end up launching a hit company with clients that include the Miami Dolphins, Pepsi, and Sony Music.

Irving Fain is the Co-founder of CrowdTwist, Inc., which provides an advanced multi-channel Customer Relationship & Loyalty platform.

This interview is part of my series with founders whose companies were launched with help from TechStars.

Irving Fain

Irving Fain


Irving Fain is the Co-founder of CrowdTwist, which provides an advanced multi-channel Customer Relationship & Loyalty platform.



Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Coming up, wait until you hear the surprising way that today’s

guest found his co-founder. If you know anyone who is looking for a

technical co-founder or any other kind of co-founder, you’re going to want

to watch that part of the interview. Also, if you’re looking for big

customers, check out how today’s start-up lands giants. All that and so

much more coming up, so stay tuned.

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good care of you. Here’s the program.

Hey there, freedom fighters, my name is Andrew Warner, I’m the founder of, home of the ambitious upstart. How does a founder who felt

like he could never come up with a business idea, end up launching a hit

company with clients that include the Miami Dolphins, Pepsi, Sony Music.

Irving Fain, the co-founder of Crowdtwist, which has incredible customers

and provides them with an advanced multi-channel customer relationship and

loyalty platform. This interview is part of my series of interviews with

founders whose companies were launched with the help of TechStars’ David

Cohen, the co-founder of TechStars, who help me put this and many other

interviews together. So, Irving, welcome and thanks for doing this


Irving: Hey, thanks so much for having me, I appreciate it. Glad to be


Andrew: Yeah, me too. So, there was a time right, as I said in the intro,

where you weren’t sure what your next big business was and you were going

swimming trying to find it, right? [laughs]

Irving: [??] swimming was related to the finding of the idea. I did not

swim to find the idea, I think I swam to just get myself out of the little

rust pit from the search of for an idea as well as the day to day grind of

my job at the time. But, yeah, you know, I have always been an entrepreneur

at heart, always knew that I was going to do something entrepreneurial. The

question for me for a while was what was that right idea to really dive

into 150%.

Andrew: Can you talk a little bit about that time, because, frankly I was

remembering, not remembering this morning, I was feeling it this morning. I

said, “There needs to be a next step for Mixergy.” I am really struggling

with what it is and there’s no clear path for figuring out what the next

step is and how to do it and it’s frustrating. Maybe if I could see it

through your eyes, I could feel a little bit better about my experience and

understand what I can do to get it right, ‘cuz frankly, you’ve got it

right. So, talk a little bit about the struggle.

Irving: So, I think you’re very kindly generous to say you’ve got it

right and I think I would almost say that there is, it’s hard to say that

anybody’s ever gotten it right at any point. Even the big established

companies are constantly evolving and iterating to make sure they continue

getting it right. Which I think really shows it’s a process at the end of

the day and every business from early, early stage companies that a couple

of people hacking on an idea to companies that are thousands and thousands

of people. I think iteration and evolution is an underpinning of all those

different circumstances. To me what that really means is that the most

important way to start that process is to start that process.

It sounds intuitive in a lot of ways, but, there are a number of ways,

there’s millions and millions of ways that you can talk yourself out of

starting a company, talk yourself out of evolving a product, reiterating

your company because it doesn’t make sense, it’s risky, it doesn’t seem to

be sensible, it’s dangerous. There’s so many different ways of looking at

it. I think that one of the most important qualities is just being willing

to initially take that risk and take the plunge and actually start on the

journey. What you realize is on along the way of that journey, you’re going

to learn a lot from the customers, clients, from your users, from yourself

. . .

Andrew: There was this period where, here’s what you told Jeremy, our

producer: “At one point I felt like we were in constant state of waking up

in the morning to go swim, then go to work, then come home and work on

ideas until 11:00 p.m. and then wake up and do it all over again. There’s

an internal struggle there, as well as the external struggle to come up

with something for clients. What was that?

Irving: I think it’s just you’ve got to find something you believe in and

you have passion for. That was the struggle for us, was that I had been an

entrepreneur at heart. That was always my goal, was to do something of my

own. I’d been on the finance side and the buy side for awhile. I then

flipped over to really get some operating experience. I was working at

Clear Channel and I was waking up in the morning, going to the pool, then

going to work. Coming home at night with one of my co-founders at the time

and we’d sit around our kitchen table and we’d spend three or four hours

just talking about different ideas. There was a sense at that time of

really immense frustration just because we knew we wanted to be building

something, but we felt that what we were building, we needed to have the

passion and the excitement for, and we just didn’t have it for each of

these ideas.

Andrew: What are some of the ideas that you had that, looking back on,


Irving: [??]. One of the ideas I still think is interesting is something in

the ticketing space which we didn’t end up pursuing for a number of

reasons, but even there I look at it now and I say, ‘Knowing what I do

know, if I’d known that back then, we probably could have dove into that


Andrew: What was the idea?

Irving: The idea was variable pricing for the primary ticket markets. The

same way you have variable pricing in the secondary market on StubHub, the

notion would be that you could offer variable pricing for a primary

ticketing market the first time someone sells tickets. A lot of

complexities, nuances.

Andrew: What’s the challenge for that? Right now, all the tickets cost the

same and then StubHub, or scalpers will often buy those tickets and then

charge me as much as they can get based on market demand. What’s the

challenge with cutting out the middle man and just having variable pricing

off the bat?

Irving: There are so many challenges. It’s a whole conversation of itself.

The big players own the big venues and the relationships and those are

things that they hold on pretty tight to and sometimes will even pay to

maintain. As a small company, to try to leverage your way in there is

difficult, and what we found is the easier inroad would be the smaller

venues and smaller rooms, but those venues and rooms typically didn’t have

shows that were as exciting, so the upside on the variability was limited

and the downside was the more likely outcome. You were creating a model

that would potentially depress the price of tickets, not increase them and

the venues where you would really see that revenue benefit were owned by

other players who were going to be very difficult to unseat. [??].

Andrew: What kind of research leads you to have this understanding?

Irving: This is the funny thing I think about, people ask me a lot when we

started Crowdtwist. ‘Did we spend too much time thinking about this stuff?

Did we spend not enough time thinking about pieces?’ We spent months and

months working on that idea. Everything from building a financial model to

creating a [??] to present to people, to researching the ticket market, to

talking to venue owners. Just to get a sense of, ‘How did the market work?

What did it mean? What were the opportunities? [??] what the product would

look like.’ We carried down a number of different paths to try to evaluate

whether that was, or wasn’t, the right opportunity.

Andrew: You also had one business idea that you followed for six months.

Was that this ticketing idea, or something else?

Irving: [??] idea.

Andrew: Six months of doing research, but not necessarily launching


Irving: Which was a tough moment for us. That was what Jeremy was referring

to when he and I spoke, is that I had invested an immense amount of myself

in being an entrepreneur, not in an idea, which is a nuance, but an

important distinction. We continued to build momentum around this ticketing

idea and what really hit us was when somebody handed us a couple of

contracts from Ticketmaster and showed us that they were years and years

and years long with immense amounts of dollars attached to them. We looked

at ourselves, like ‘Wow. This is going to be really difficult to build this

business, no matter how compelling [??] idea we have. That moment where we

had to look at ourselves and say, “You know what? You want to do something.

We want to build a business, but this isn’t the business that we should

build,” was a tough one because we’d invested so much of our time, so much

of our energy and we were, it felt like, starting from zero. In hindsight

now, looking back, and we weren’t really starting from zero because we

learned about the evaluation process itself and what was valuable that we

did, what work was not necessary and that allowed us, when we did come on

the idea of Crowdtwist to be much more efficient and effective in our

evaluation. [??] came and ask for tickets, and perform crowd twists, but we

didn’t spend much time on that one.

Andrew: There was something before crowd twists, but after the ticket

business- what was that?

Irving: We looked at a babysitting concept, that there was something around

the world of babysitting, connecting babysitters with families who needed

babysitters, but we spent much less time on that than six months on


Andrew: So, what was one thing that you did right in evaluating the

ticketing business, and one thing that you wished you hadn’t wasted your

time on?

Irving: I think the most important thing we did right was figuring out

everything that could potentially be wrong. What I say to people all the

time is that if you can’t identity a number of potential issues and

pitfalls and problems with your business, then you’re not looking hard

enough. No matter what your business is, no matter how compelling of an

idea you’ve created, there are always pitfalls and potential problems.

Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest- they are sort of the rock stars of

the moment in technology- even they have plenty of pitfalls, let alone when

they were starting up. So we were very critical of the idea, the market,

the opportunity as we were starting, to understand the risks that were at

play. I think the question then becomes, where is critical and where is too

critical? There is a point at which you can talk yourself out of pretty

much anything.

Andrew: That’s a good point. So that’s something that you did do right,

where did you waste your time in evaluating that first ticketing business?

Irving: I think we did a lot of great work in order to create as many

materials as we did, I’m not convinced we did, but that’s all in the

rearview mirror at this point.

Andrew: What kind of material?

Irving: We created a presentation, we created a whole pretty complicated

financial model, we included benefits because it helped us understand the

economic opportunity. I’m really a believer that you’ve got to build

business that have modernization. I know there’s a lot of attractiveness to

building a user base and then figuring out modernization later. I may be

old school, but I do think that thinking about the economics of a business

is important. We did spend a lot of time thinking about that. It’s hard to

tell if that’s right or wrong, but here I am today, right?

Andrew: Speaking of modernization, what size revenue would you say you are

doing now?

Irving: That’s not something we disclose, but we have had healthy growth

from last year to this year, which is the right trend. We look to have

healthy growth moving into next year also.

Andrew: Alright, I knew from my notes that you weren’t willing to talk

about it, but I would like to try. What were you doing just before, while

you were looking for ideas? What was that job?

Irving: I was working Third Channel in their digital division, so I was

working the digital arm of the biggest radio group in the world. We were

really the national organization, maybe a thousand-and-some stations across

the whole country, so we managed their sites, their technologies, their

different platforms, applications or opportunities that came out so we

could roll them out to the entire radio portfolio.

Andrew: OK. So even though you had that job, and you had other jobs before-

an associate, partners, private equity- you always were an entrepreneur at

heart. In fact, you did something that you mentioned- StubHub, the founder

of StubHub came here and told me about how he used to sell toys and candy

when he was in school- you did something like that too, right?

Irving: I was always looking for the next business idea. I told Jeremy the

story about when I was very young, I used to go down to the corner store, a

place called Harrison’s where I grew up in Providence, and I’d buy these

little rubber animals for 10 cents or whatever they were, and then I’d go

home and I’d siphon them off into a number of different compartments, and

I’d put all the animals in, and then I’d go to the playground and I’d sell

the animals out for 25 cents to all the kids at the playground. And I went

to a Quaker school, and playground commerce was not one of the attributes

that they were really trying to encourage, so that business didn’t last

very long. But between that, and snow shoveling businesses, and raking

leaves- and I had a quite lucrative business that started as a lemonade

stand and turned into t-shirts, roses, that I ran all the way up until I

was 19 years old that grew to be very sizable. So, I was always chasing

after different projects and building up businesses.

Andrew: And you shut down for the t-shirt business because you didn’t have

the right trademarks, you were just creating t-shirts.

Irving: We were creating t-shirts for the local college, and what ended up

happening was that we were victims of our own success. People liked our t-

shirts so much, they were so much better than the standard boring t-shirts

for the college, that they were going into the book store in groves asking

for our t-shirts, at which point the book store says, “Clearly someone’s

doing something out there and it’s not our t-shirts. We need to end this.”

Then all of a sudden the local campus police roll up on our place. They

took our t-shirts and so ended our business.

Andrew: I should move past this, but I can’t. The fact that you sold little

rubber animals while you were in school and were shut down for it really

irritates me. I hear this a lot in interviews. The same thing happened to

the founder of StubHub. The same thing happened to me. The same thing

happened to so many other kids. If you’re a kid and you pee your pants in

school, they will make you feel OK about it. They will make sure that they

treat you right as you go through this, but if you sell candy. Boom. They

shut you down and treat you like a criminal. If you sell the little dolls.

Don’t you think that’s wrong?

Irving: I think that the notion is that you’re preying on the lack of

judgment, I guess, would be for a [??] five year old.

Andrew: You’re selling it for 10 cents, 20. Buying it for 10 cents, selling

it for 25. We’re talking about penny commerce to teach you entrepreneurship

and encourage this talent that you’ve given.

Irving: Their argument would probably be that there are better ways to

teach and encourage entrepreneurship. It wasn’t as if they strung me up in

front of the whole school and made a huge deal about it. It was just one of

those, [??].

Andrew: So, did they teach you entrepreneurship in a different way?

Irving: No.

Andrew: No. They missed that. You’re given a talent. If it’s a Quaker

school, they should think that it’s a God-given talent and encourage it,

and if it’s a public school, they should think it’s a big-bang given

talent, but encourage it.

Irving: It was not a very religious school, that which [??], so not much

[??], but certainly encourage it, but probably in their own ways. Was it

right or wrong to stop me [??] selling animals? Who knows? I certainly

wasn’t hurting anybody, that’s for sure. I just know the bureaucratic

policies of large organizations, whether it be schools or government, or

big companies, don’t always make sense. That’s why we all do what we do.

Andrew: I’m indignant, my friend. You’re working at Clear Channel. Where

did the idea that became Crowdtwist come from?

Irving: As I’ve said at length now, we were really looking for an idea to

latch ourselves onto and I started and ran the Digital Marketing and Social

Platforms Division at Clear Channel, within the [??] Group. One of the

things I was responsible for was our loyalty platform, and we have this

loyalty platform across all of our stations, which was effective at driving

engagement. Very effective at driving engagement, but what never made any

sense to me was that the kind of engagement we were driving was not the

engagement that was actually valuable to our brands.

Andrew: What kind of engagement were you guys driving?

Irving: Page views.

Andrew: Page views.

Irving: Basically.

Andrew: So, what was it typically like?

Irving: [??] area of the website. We’re driving engagement in a cordoned

off, what we didn’t feel was a very well branded, or very well integrated

experience as a part of our radio station sites. I looked across and said,

“There are so many areas that are more important for us to drive engagement

and build brand affinity with that are being completely missed by this

platform.” Not only that, but it wasn’t very well integrated, the

technology wasn’t current with what people are doing and using today. We

just saw an immense opportunity in that alone because we did see the power

of what rewards and points could do, but what was lacking.

Andrew: Did you have rewards and points at Clear Channel?

Irving: Yeah. This was the platform we were wanting.

Andrew: Can you help me understand what the process was like at Clear

Channel? What you were working on and how did it work? Was it just tweet,

send people to a page. If they went to [??].

Irving: [??] any of that. It was a platform that we licensed from a third

party company and it was, literally, take a poll. Take a quiz. Play a slot

machine game. It was actions that really didn’t have much of anything to do

with our stations.

Andrew: Then when a user did it, he got points?

Irving: Yup. And the points can be used for varying types of rewards.

Andrew: Like t-shirts? That kind of thing?

Irving: That type of thing. Not even that sometimes. Sometimes, the

opportunity to get a t-shirt. There were different ways in which they built

the programs, but there was so much opportunity that was left on the table.

That was very clear to us.

Andrew: The way that they got people to those sites was basically

announcing it on the radio?

Irving: The radio’s a powerful promotional vehicle. It was part of our

sites, so it’s part of our radio station experience, so they can promote it

through the site, promote it through the actual radio station itself.

Andrew: Your co-founder, where was he at the time?

Irving: He was at Clear Channel with me initially. Then he moved from Clear

Channel to MTV and while he was at MTV, the other catalyst for us was he

was working with some of the biggest artists in the world who were coming

to listen. We’ve got the master fan clubs and the whole goal is to put the

best tickets in the hands of our best fans. But oftentimes we think we have

up to 50% of people in our club who are actually scalpers. So not only are

we not getting the best tickets to our fans, but we’re actually hurting our

fans because the scalpers are getting the tickets at base value and then

selling it to the biggest fans at five or six [??] profit. But we have no

idea how to figure out who’s a scalper and who’s a real fan. We sort of put

two and two together and we said, you know, if we built a rewards program

that didn’t just drive [??] but actually drove grand, valuable actions.

And coupled that then with the data that you were able to get back about

the people who were engaging, not only would you drive substantially more

brand value, on one end, but the understand you would get back could help

you know and understand your audience in a more effective manner than

you’ve ever had before. So we are solving both of those problems in a

really compelling way. We started to think about it more, and I think, why

did we follow our hearts with [??] more than our prior ideas, is the first

idea, we started to think about it more and more, we gained more conviction

about what we were doing, not less. And we just felt more and more like,

this was the right idea for us. And it evolved from there.

Andrew: One thing you discovered in a ticketing business seems to me was,

that, the real customer wasn’t the person who was buying the ticket. The

real customer was the venue who was getting paid massively in having to

sign big contract with the ticketing company, right? And it was their

frustrations and their needs that you have to take into account, and their

contractual obligations that you have to take into account. It seems like

the same thing here that if you are going to build a loyalty program that

it was, it wasn’t the end users needs and frustrations that you have to

cater to. It was someone else’s. Who was it?

Irving: Yeah. I think, really, what we like to say is we have two

customers. We have the clients who we sell to, the big brands who license

our platform and our technology. We need to make sure that they feel good

about what we’re doing, the platform overall for them. But equally, their

end users and their customers are our clients and customers as well,

because if those people aren’t happy, if they’re not gaining benefits from

the solutions, if they’re not getting value from the solution, ultimately

they won’t be happy nor will the big brands, and then we won’t be either.

So we need to satisfy both of those parties in the same manner as you said

that the ticketing business would have that dynamic.

Andrew: So, how did you know that the brands have this need? That they

cared enough about this to want your product?

Irving: I don’t think it was how do you know that brands cared enough about

this, I think, for us, this was more, this is an idea that makes a lot of


Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Irving: Loyalty has been around for decades and decades. And loyalty is a

really powerful and valuable tool. Step way back from the radio station

world, look at retailers, CPG companies, travel, hotels, on and on, they’ve

been using royalty for a really long time, and they’ve been using it

effectively, but what we started to see is we thought about this at a more

macro level is that the way royalty has been built no longer makes sense

for the landscape that has existed today. It was fundamentally focused on

the point of sale. It was all about what the customers spent. And the

reason that was was because that was the only trackable action that you

actually have. The only time you knew [??] was engaging with your brand was

when you were actually spending money whether it was with a credit card,

with a card from a retailer, whatever the experience was. I’m never going

to tell you that spending money in a point of sale isn’t powerful and

important part of customers, of course it is. But we realize that there

were a lot of areas and places with which people were engaging and creating

value and building relationships with brands.

The digital landscape had exploded. There was social platforms. There was

checking platforms. There were mobiles. There was email marketing. There’s

online. So none of these other channels fit into the understanding of

loyalty from a traditional place. And we look at this and said, you need to

be able to build a program that not just tracks from the [??] spend, but

really recognizes and incentivizes and rewards fans and customers for all

of the value that they create across the entire brand new system. So it’s

not just limited to spend, it’s anytime you’re engaging with a brand,

anywhere that you’re engaging with them.

Andrew: So, if I happen to buy a Kelly Clarkson CD from her publishing

company, they can clearly identify me as taking a step towards being a

loyal fan of hers. They can clearly reward me for that. What else would I

do that’s valuable to them in relationship to her?

Irving: Yes, whether [??] it’s music or the dolphins. There are so many

places you’re touching the brand or engaging with the brand. It could be a

special channel, so the influence that you’re able to exert across a

Facebook or a Twitter. It could be the influence in your ability to check

into a location and drive. You’d actually be on the premise via Foursquare

check-in. It’s reading emails, engaging in email marketing campaigns.

Andrew: I see. So, if I show up to get her autograph somewhere and I check

in, on Foursquare you want to be able to give me a reward for doing that.

Irving: Sure.

Andrew: If I tweet out that she has a new video and my friends go and click

to watch it, then you want to reward me for helping to promote her for

caring that much about her.

Irving: It’s about recognizing value that people are creating for brands. I

think from a consumer level we think about our product a lot of times from

a consumer perspective, and consumers are very aware of the value that

they’re creating for the brands that they patronize. And they’re aware that

they’re creating value many times earlier than they spend money and far

after when they spend money. That tweet that you send out has some element

of value, that Foursquare check-in has some value, the fact that you’re

taking time to read the email campaign, click in, that has value. Going to

the website, consuming content, sharing content has some element of value.

The fact that you’re taking the time to read the email campaign, click in.

That has value. Go to the website consuming content, sharing content. All

of that has some element of value for a brand.

So, what we’re simply saying to our clients is that it’s important that you

recognize the value that your fans are creating for you everywhere that

they’re created. That’s an expectation that consumers have and are going to

continue to have even more as the discussion about data only heats up.

Andrew: All right. You told us how you met Josh, your co-founder, but

neither you nor Josh are intense developers, right?

Irving: Nope.

Andrew: You needed to find somebody to build this idea out. How did you

find Mike, your technical co-founder?

Irving: Very serendipitously, I guess, is the answer. You have to look at

this in the beginning. We looked around and we were going to meet-ups and

we were talking to as many people as we could and doing everything that

people nowadays do when they’re looking for a technical person to join

their team, and we made the clear decision that it made more sense for us

to bring somebody on the team who is really invested in the project versus

hiring a shop or a development team just to build what we needed.

We put an ad on Craigslist, a couple of ads on Craigslist, and we had a

number of people who responded and were interested, and we got a resume one

day of this guy. We look at it and we go, “Wow, no way this guy is actually

who he says he is.” We go and meet him at the local Starbucks around the

corner, and we met him and he was a fantastic guy and can do, in fact, all

of the things that it said on his resume. On top of it, he was a great

person. We were kind of, “Wow, there’s just something that doesn’t add up,

something doesn’t make sense.” We continued to talk with him and continued

to chat with him. Truth be told, it was real serendipity. He was incredibly

talented, had done this a number of times before successfully, was a

fantastic and phenomenal developer and had a lot of passion for the same

ideas we were chasing. And so, it was a great match.

Andrew: What kind of ad do you write on Craigslist that leads you to find a

guy like Michael Montero?

Irving: It was a short ad actually. Someone asked me about it about six or

eight months ago, and I dredged it up and looked at it. I don’t remember it

exactly, but it was only like five lines, I think. So, it was short.

Andrew: Do you remember the gist of it? Were you saying, “Hey, I’m looking

for a technical co-founder to launch a business in the loyalty program


Irving: It sounds kind of cliché now because I feel like everybody’s

looking for a ninja, but I think at the time admittedly we said ninja in

our post. The headline in the post, I think it said… At the time we were

a music startup as well. We were better fan clubs for musicians was the

first incarnation, and so it was music startup looking for ninja CTO or

something of that sort and just gave a couple lines, experience in the

industry, looking for somebody great and he responded.

Andrew: And then, once you meet him…

Irving: [??] in some regards probably.

Andrew: How do you win him over once you meet him? Is it giving him equity?

Is it something else?

Irving: It’s about fit. He appreciated the vision we had for the product.

He appreciated the goal we had in mind for the company and what we wanted

to do and most importantly the opportunity we saw that was there. It felt

like it was a fit in that regard.

Andrew: I’m looking here at his CrunchBase profile. It says, “Mike co-

founded his first company right out of college, Community Connect, Inc.

which published niche social networks and grew to one of the largest social

networking sites at the time. It was sold to Radio One in 2008. Mike’s

second venture, which he co-founded, Photolog, started in his apartment on

his DSL and grew to the 56th largest site in the world. Photolog was sold

in the fall of 2007, and then it talks about City Realty providing services

for major companies, like Prudential. This is a guy who has a good

background. Do you win him over? Can you just tell me a little bit more

about how you win him over because I know there’s someone in my audience

who is saying, “I meet great people all the time. I want them to partner

with me. What do I say? What’s the magic word beyond just fitting?

Irving: I think, winning over is a tough way to say it because it’s a

different thing about for getting a client. It’s different for gaining a

client than it is for a partner, and it’s a different dynamic and it’s a

different relationship. So, the most important thing I think you need to

have is passion, enthusiasm and excitement for what you’re doing and what

you’re building. It’s actually critical. Once you have that, you need to

find somebody who has the same amount of passion, excitement and enthusiasm

and who fits well with you and the business that you’re building. And

finding that is the most important thing you can find.

Winning over somebody who’s not going to be a good fit for you ultimately

is going to be a bad choice. You want to find that person who is a good fit

who shares the passion, and the best way you can do it is to get somebody

excited who would be a good fit is to be excited yourself, be able to

articulate and express the vision that you have clearly, concisely but with

the passion that you have. Because my belief, what people are attracted to

in the early stages are passionate because that’s really, that’s the fodder

[SP] that you have. It’s the passion that drives you forward when you’ve

got no customers, when the features you wanted to build are taking twice as

long, when nobody believes and wants to invest.

There are all these typical moments you have in building a company. If you

don’t have conviction, you don’t have passion, it’s hard to move through


Andrew: All right. I want to know and I will ask you later on about how

that passion helped you in some of the tougher times. For now, let’s

continue with the narrative. You’ve got Michael interested in this

business. The three of you get to work. How long did it take you to launch

the first version?

Irving: Too long. I think one of the things we probably would have done

differently is not build as much as we did to start. There’s obviously a

lot of talk about the Lean Startup Movement, right or wrong. There’s

definitely credence to the notion that you don’t have to build everything.

We launched the product in early summer of 2010. It was hard. Mike was

working at nights and weekends. I was working nights and weekends. Josh was

working nights and weekends. We had a couple of other developers who had

joined up and were working with us. Some of them were working full time,

but when you don’t have everybody focused all the time, it’s a difficult


Andrew: Other developers. How did you afford to pay other developers to

help out?

Irving: Oh, Josh and Mike and I really made the decision that we were going

to fund the business in the early days on our own to get it to a certain

point, so that’s what we did.

Andrew: How much money did you guys put in?

Irving: It’s not something we disclose.

Andrew: Really?

Irving: Yeah, we put in a fair bit.

Andrew: OK.

Irving: Between the three of us we invested a lot. My belief is if I didn’t

believe in it, if Mike didn’t believe in it, Josh didn’t believe in it, how

could we ask anybody else not to? We didn’t invest millions and millions of

dollars, but we put in a substantial amount of money to afford to pay a

couple of developers. The developers had some equity in it themselves so

everybody had the incentive to make this thing work, but we felt like it

didn’t make sense for us to go out and raise money until we had a product

that we could actually show them. I think the market’s even changed now

from then, but that was our feeling at the time.

Andrew: You know, can I tell you something? I didn’t push you earlier when

it came to revenues, and I’m not going to push you even here about how much

you put in, but I think you should talk about it. I think the amount that

you put in doesn’t give anything away to your competitors, and it does

nothing but show everyone in this space and everyone who you’re going to

hire how much you believed in it. I’m not going to push you to do it, but I

wouldn’t ask a second time if I didn’t believe that it was important today.

Irving: It’s a fair point. You kind of caught me by surprise, truth be told

because it has to do with Josh and Mike as well, not just me. I feel it’s

not right of me. I’d have to ask them before I disclosed something like

that just because it’s not only my finances it’s theirs as well. But

suffice it to say, it’s hundreds of thousands that were put in by us.

Andrew: OK. All right. So, you said “too long”. How long again did it take

to build?

Irving: I don’t know the exact time because it’s hard to know when we

started building, but we launched in the summer of 2010.

Andrew: So, is that roughly six months?

Irving: Yeah, somewhere around there, but maybe a little bit more. Probably

a little but more than six months.

Andrew: OK. And if you had to do it again, you said that maybe you’d go

smaller. What would you have taken out of the first launch to get it out

the door faster?

Irving: There’s all the nuances in the future I could talk about that

wouldn’t make a lot of sense to the people listening, because they don’t

know our product like I do. But after you kind of hit that critical point,

like what’s the core product you’re trying to build, there were probably

bells and whistles that we added because they looked good, they sounded

good, they made sense. Could we have added in a Phase two or a Phase three

after we arrived? Absolutely. Did they absolutely need to be there for the

first launch? Certainly not. So I think it’s making that distinction

between, what do you really need to get the product out the door and make

it function, and drive the results you want. And what are the other things

you can start to add on later? Because the other piece, you learn a ton

when you launch your product. A lot that you just never expected.

Andrew: Like what? Once you launched, what did you learn that you didn’t


Irving: It’s funny, we tested the hell out of it with the team that we had,

but ultimately, that was a small group of people I think, five or six of

us. Between, three of our co-founders, our two (?), and our designer at the

time. So we’re testing it, but that’s six people. So six people is six

people using the product. And all of a sudden when you have hundreds of

people using the product after you launch, the things that worked for six

people, may not actually work for a hundred people. Also when you have

strangers and people you don’t now, you’re curious about information about

them, and you want to learn more about other people in the program. Which

were dynamics that you could never really see when it was just six people.

Because we knew each other. We weren’t really gauging in the program as

much as testing the software itself.

Andrew: Can you give me an example? At this point in the interview, we’re

over a half an hour into the interview, so people do know your business.

Give us an idea of what you didn’t know about it when you launched.

Irving: Something as simple as, we felt like, ‘Wow. Here’s hundreds of

people who joined the program, who all share a common interest that we have

as well. And I’m interested in learning more about these other people. Who

are they? How did they (?) that they have? Where are they from? Where do

they rank compared to me?’ Things like this. That’s just not an issue you

ever saw with six people or a hundred fake user accounts created by six

people. That curiosity didn’t exist because it was all familiarities. So

when you took out the variable of familiarity, there’s this curiosity about

that existed about the community that had built around our program that we

hadn’t really built a product to cater to. And that is where we initially


Andrew: That makes total sense. If you and I were fans of Mixergy, and I

saw you on the fan list, I’d think, ‘Oh cool. Irving’s using the software.

It’ll be interesting to see if other entrepreneurs take to it the way that

he does.’ But if it’s someone who’s listening to us right now, who joins

the fan community, I’d want to know, who are they? Why do they listen? What

are they doing with this? Are they good entrepreneurs, or are they just

wannabees? And so on.

Alright. So I get that. I get the launch. What I’m wondering is, what was

the first fan club for? You didn’t have clients then, right?

Irving: A small artist in Brooklyn, named Rose Zeigelhand (SP). So, that

was our first client. And her manager, Dave, is a fantastic guy and we met

with him and Rosie at B Bar, down on Barry and New York, and we pitched

them the idea. We had our designer, Ruby, create these nice mock ups of

what it was going to like for Rosie. And we showed it to them and said,

‘Hey, what do you think?’ And, ‘We’ll give it to you. Can we launch with

you guys?’ And they loved it and they loved the concept and they said

absolutely. For us, as we built the company, we thought it was a lot better

to have somebody actually using it in live, versus trying to go out to

people and explain the concept, without having anything to show.

Andrew: And you picked Rosie because she was a smaller artist, who hadn’t

broken through big yet, and so she’d be easier to work with, without red

tape, without a million managers, and so on.

Irving: Listen, she’s had a really successful career. She’s a very

successful artist, actually. And Dave’s a great manager. It’s just, we had

a good relationship with Dave. We thought we could work with him. She was

the kind of size where, to your point, there wasn’t the red tape and the

bureaucracy, and we could get something up and running with minimal


Andrew: And you knew about her because you worked with Clear Channel. What

was her connection to Clear Channel?

Irving: One of things I did was, we have a content team for creative time,

so I knew a lot of artists and managers and folks like that.

Andrew: You know what, let’s talk a little bit about this value of having

been an employee before starting a business. So many times entrepreneurs

say, ‘I would never,’ and anytime anyone says, ‘I would never,’ you think

that they’re not thinking. But, a lot of entrepreneurs say, ‘I would never

get a job,’ and here, as you and I talk I see that getting a job at Clear

Channel, having other work experience opened you up to opportunities and

understanding of the market that you wouldn’t have had if you were just an

outsider here. You found your first partner through Clear Channel. What

else did you learn as a result of working for Clear Channel?

Irving: I learned a lot working for all the companies I’ve worked for, you

know, in my career. I think that I would never tell anyone that there’s a

right and a wrong path to take. For some folks, diving right into the world

of entrepreneurship makes a lot of sense. For other folks, having a

structured experience and exposure is extraordinarily valuable. I think

certainly the climate that we’re in right now, I think it’s great for

technology and entrepreneurs as there’s more opportunity today than there

has been for really a long, long time. And for people who’ve never worked

anywhere, there’s places where they can get involved and early stage

companies they could get involved in and there’s more opportunity in

general. So I think that’s a great thing. For me, first of all, when I was

first interested in kind of getting involved in technology I just hadn’t

had a business background as much in college and I thought that having some

training and background was going to be valuable.

That was why I chose to go into finance, but I stayed in the part of

finance that was relevant to where I wanted to be. So I was helping early

stage companies actually raise venture capital so I was working with the

type of companies I eventually wanted to be involved with myself. So I

learned something through that experience, someone told me a long while

ago, you know, it can be valuable to learn on somebody else’s dime and so,

again, for some that’s true, for others you just have an idea and a burning

passion for a specific problem when they just say this is what I need to

do, this is what I need to solve, I’m going to go out and do it.

Thank God we have the ecosystem that we do now that people can go follow

their dreams and passions immediately, but for others I think, particularly

if you’re building a company that’s focused on enterprises and brands and

bigger businesses, having spent time at a bigger business, at a company

understanding how the politics work, how decisions are made, how things get

done, how quickly or slowly things can move, that’s really valuable when

you’re on the other side. When you’re in the company trying to work with

these types of things. I think managing you’re expectations can be really

effective and helpful.

Andrew: I started my first company right out of school. We had two

different ideas, the great idea needed partnerships with big companies like

AOL. I didn’t know the first thing about how to get in the door there and I

was just trying for weeks and getting frustrated for a long time and then I

finally went with a simpler idea that didn’t require big, big partnerships.

But if I had spent a little bit of time at those companies or working at

any company I might have had an understanding of how to network my way in,

how the business worked, as you said. I don’t regret it, I’m just saying it

would have been an interesting option and a useful option in that case.

Irving: Yeah. I don’t think that there’s a right or wrong path, you know,

like one of my great friends, Wiley Cerilli, had a fantastic exit for his

company, he single platformed to Constant Contact and, you know, he before

single platform was one of the earliest employees at Seamless Web. So he

never spent time at big established organizations. I mean, very, very quick

stints at early companies but he had never spent time with a big company

but the time he spent at Seamless Web gave him valuable experience and

exposure that he took to help him start his company, Single Platform, so

there is no right path. There is no prescribed path, necessarily, that one

needs to follow. I think it’s about what’s right for you, what makes sense

for you at the time, what your skills are and what you want to do.

Andrew: All right. So how did you get the next clients? Did you need

funding in order to get the next artist or business to partner with you?

Irving: I think we did go out and start to raise funding at the time, so we

were lucky to close that initial seed round in September, 2010. But I

wouldn’t say that that was a requirement for us to get clients. Really what

started to happen was we just started to talk to more and more folks about

what we were doing and it really resonated with people and it resonated not

just in the world of music but it almost resonated more power probably

outside of music because brands realized, hey, we’re no different than an

artist and same problem that artists have which is, you know, a distributed

base of customers and fans across many different platforms and channels is

the problem that we have as a brand and oftentimes brands have bigger

budgets and sometimes more savvy as well. So our ability to take what we

were doing in the world of music and transfer and translate it over to

bigger brands, it just made a lot of sense and we were lucky enough to sign

Live Nation as a client in the late fall 2010 and we ended up running a

very, very successful program with them and that was a great catalyst for

the business.

Andrew: How did you get into Live Nation’s office?

Irving: A friend of a [??]. He knew someone who worked there and ran one of

their big, big festivals and said, “You should check out this company and

the technology that they’ve got. It’s great.” He sent it over to this guy,

John Desposito. John looked at it and said, “This is exactly what I want to

do.” We came into his office, we talked to him. He’s like, “I love it. This

is what I want. I like to be innovative. Let’s do it.” That was the


Andrew: Did John help you shape the product back then, too?

Irving: It was less about helping to shape the product, more about giving

it a much more powerful megaphone to talk to people about what we actually


Andrew: So, how did John want to use the platform? What was he going to

reward and what was he going to give people who collected those points?

Irving: What was cool was that John’s vision for the platform was exactly

what our vision was for the platform, which I think why he was a great, or

early client, was he wanted to engage and activate his audience across all

the different channels where they were engaging with this festival. That

was Twitter. That was Facebook. That was on their website. They had

Bamboozle Radio. Looking through their photo galleries. Engaging with their

artists and then, of course, buying tickets was important to them, as well.

This notion of cross channel engagement and multi-channel loyalty was

really at the core of what he wanted to do and what we were offering, so

there was a great intersection there. Then secondarily, one of our core

competencies, one of the things that we were really focused on is not

building traditional award programs that give you $10 off for every $200

you spent, but this notion of giving experiences and access and status and

opportunities that money can’t necessarily buy. John wanted to give away,

not things like, ‘Get a free hotdog at the Bamboozle festival,’ but more

importantly, announce your favorite band on stage, or get to go to a photo

shoot with your favorite band, or drum lesson with such-and-such band, or a

signed drumstick. Things like this that were really special and exciting to

his fans. His vision, not just for the platform, but also for the rewards

were very much in line with what our vision was.

Andrew: You mentioned earlier, “There are times in a business where things

just aren’t working, but your passion will help carry you forward.” For you

it was, there were times when people just weren’t getting the idea. Can you

talk a little bit about that and how you got past the moment where, for

every person who said, “This is a good idea,” ten people are telling you

it’s not going to work?

Irving: I think every entrepreneur is going to tell you that they’ve been

through the experience where people are going to tell them, “That’s a bad

idea. It’s not going to work. That’s going to fail.” Where every reason

under the sun of why your vision isn’t ever going to come into reality. We

had plenty of instances, whether it was when we were raising funding in the

early days and people didn’t believe in the music space, necessarily. They

were concerned about music or concerned about varying aspects of our

business and if we’d be able to take it to the next level. Then when we

were talking to early companies and they were trying to understand what it

all actually meant and why the platform made sense, there was just that

ability to stay positive, continue to maintain conviction and passion for

what we were doing. Invigorate and evolve the story and evolve the pitch

and evolve the product to a point where it did resonate with clients. It

did make sense to them. It did resonate with investors, and we’ve been

really lucky and I’m incredibly appreciative that we’ve been able to do


Andrew: What’s one iteration that you took that had significant impact on

getting new clients?

Irving: It was moving away from music solely. We spent a lot of time

focused on the world of music and selfishly we really wanted to reinvent

the music space in a lot of ways and a lot of people have wanted to do

that. We started to realize that while that was a noble mission and

something that we wanted to do, for the sake of the business to be really

effective, we needed to broaden beyond the world of music. We needed to

bring our platform services to many more people and that was absolutely the

right decision because as we did that, we started to really pick up

traction and interest across the board.

Andrew: What about TechStars? At what point did you guys decide to be in


Irving: We met Dave Tisch in late fall, 2010.

Andrew: Who was running the New York [??].

Irving: He was running, he was the Managing Director. It was the first time

there’d been a program for TechStars in New York and we walked around the

park with him and talked about Crowdtwist and what we were doing and he was

really interested in the idea and he liked the concept and told us about

TechStars. We didn’t know a lot about it before then and looked at it and

said, ‘We’ll certainly apply.’ We applied for the program and we were lucky

enough to get accepted in the first round and the second round and then

went in, interviewed with David Tisch and David Cohen and we’re offered a

spot in the first New York program and then took it.

Andrew: So, they don’t give you a ton of money? You invested more of your

own money than they invested in your business. How did they help you beyond

that, how did they help you shape the product for example?

Irving: Interestingly enough, Company [??] has now involved themselves, so

I think that they give founders or companies now substantially more than

was given back when we were starting.

Andrew: Right.

Irving: I’m not sure of the exact sum, but around $100,000 or something

like that.

Andrew: Right.

Irving: But still, $100,000 isn’t going to make or break anybody’s

business. It’s a great start, it’s a helpful start, but it’s not the end-

all be-all. To me, Company [??] is much, much more about the network

they’ve built, the network of companies, the network of mentors, and the

exposure and experience you gain over the course of the three months that

you’re there.

Andrew: So what’s specific thing you’ve got out of being in the program?

Irving: We just met an incredible amount of people. Incredible mentors,

former entrepreneurs, current entrepreneurs, current investors, folks at

big companies, just champions in many areas and walks of business life.

People who were excited about what we were doing, excited about the vision

of the company itself, made phenomenal introductions in a number of places,

and really just had a vested interest in seeing us successful.

Andrew: OK, what about one of the other questions, can we talk about

LiveNation? Can you tell me about how you got either Miami Dolphins, Pepsi,

or Sony Music?

Irving: I mean, we. . .

Andrew: It’s an impressive roster you guys have.

Irving: I think our focus has been, first of all, there are people in the

world we see sometimes who believe in selling before you’ve got a product.

We really believed in building a world-class, investing-class product, and

then rolling that out to a set of clients that made a lot of sense for our

different verticals. And I think when we brought the product we did, with

the vision that we did, it really resonated with those folks. Ironically

after we sort of separated from music, we met Sony as they were looking to

really build a broader, reward loyalty opportunity across the Sony artists.

We met Zumiez [SP], which is one of the biggest action sports retailers in

the country, they had an association with LiveNation, they’d seen our

software, and they found it was very interesting as they were thinking

about loyalty internally. We had a number of conversations with them, they

reached out to us, we ultimately went out to Seattle to spend time with the

entire management team, we loved the team and the vision for what they

wanted to do, and they were excited about us as a team and what we were

looking to do- it was a fit.

Andrew. All right. Let me tell people about, if they want to take the next

step with Mixergy what they can do, and then I want to come back and ask

you one final question about what your advice is for someone who wants big

clients, like the ones I’ve just mentioned, who you’ve been successful

enough to land. So, if you’re watching this interview, and you want more

with Mixergy, go to What’s Mixergy Premium? Well, you

know how as an entrepreneur, you guys in the audience. . . Well, as

entrepreneurs, we all actually have issues we come up with. Like maybe we

create a landing page, and maybe we aren’t getting enough people to fill in

their email on that landing page, or to buy from that landing page. Well,

at Mixergy, we have a course from Dan Siroker of Optimizely where he

teacher what he’s learning about increasing conversions. His product,

Optimizely, is more popular than Google Website Optimizer, so he’s watched

a lot of companies use it and increase their conversions, so he’ll teach

you how to increase conversions.

What’s another problem that we have? How to increase customer service. So

we have another program coming up about how to improve your customer

service. If you’re getting flooded with emails, how do you handle those

emails? How do you respond to them in a way that makes people understand

that they’re heard? How do you even anticipate some of the problems that

you’re going to have, and handle them before they start coming in? We’ve

got a course coming up on that, with All these issues

that we have as entrepreneurs, I go out there and I find entrepreneurs that

are especially good at handling these issues, and I bring them on and ask

them to turn on their computers, show us how they solve these problems for

themselves, teach us how we can do it too. So that basically is what

Mixergy Premium is.

And if you join right now, and you don’t love it as much as I do, and as

much as thousands of other people do, let me know and I’ll give you 100%

refund. But my bet is, you’re going to love it, you’re going to say

subscribed, and you’re going to get infinitely more value out of it than

you’re going to pay. You’re going to get thousands of dollars, I would say,

for every dollar that you pay to be a part of So go

there and join now, and I look forward to having you on board. So what is

your advice, Irving, for someone who wants to land the kind of clients that

you have- Pepsi, Sony, et cetera.

Irving: There are a lot of different areas to that. I think the first is,

it sounds so simple and intuitive, but you’ve got to build something that

folks are looking for, that solves a real problem for them. You’ve got to

recognize that the bigger brands, these bigger companies are pitched all

the time by existing technologies but also new technologies who want to

solve their problems. So, understanding what the most acute pain points

that those folks have, where do they need to prioritize getting resolutions

and problems. What are the most important issues that they’re having? How

can you build something that solves it, or more important, if you build a

product, who are the big brands who value the problem that you’re solving

as much as you do. So make sure, as they say, fish where the fish are in

that regard.

I think the second piece is persistence. You’ve got to have patience and

persistence with big companies as much as you want them to move at the

speed that startups move, they don’t. There are more complexities. There’s

more people involved, more decisions to be made, so you need to stay

persistent. You need to stay on top of these folks and continue to move the

process forward, but you also need to be patient and recognize that it’s

going to take some time, and I think you need to cast a wide net. You need

to talk to as many people as you can because not everything’s going to hit,

not everything’s going to close. That’s the nature of our business, but

exposing yourself to as many different opportunities as you can is going to

give you the highest likelihood of finding some great partners, and

momentum begets momentum. So, success with big clients begets more success

with other big clients begets more success with other big clients.

Andrew: All right. I think that’s a good place to leave it. Thank you for

doing this interview. Anyone who wants to see the business that we’ve been

talking about can go to and, of course, thank you again

TechStars for introducing me to Irving and so many other great


Oh, one more thing. Speaking of introducing me to other great

entrepreneurs, Wiley from Single Platform, can you introduce me to him

after this interview is over?

Irving: [laughs] He’s got a lot going on right now with all that’s

happened, but I can certainly make that happen.

Andrew: I’ll shoot you an email. If you just pass it on to him, even if

he’s not interested today, I will continue doing these interviews for

probably the rest of my life. Just tapping him today and saying the

opportunity is here, maybe we’ll get him to do the interview. If not, maybe

he’ll do it sometime in the future.

Irving: He’s a great speaker, I hope he does.

Andrew: Now, I want him for sure. All right. I’ll follow up with you. Thank

you all for watching.

Irving: Great. Thank you.

  • Your comments about schools shutting down entrepreneurship in schools struck a chord with me.

    I and a few friends started a newsletter/newspaper in our elementary school that competed with the real school-sponsored paper. We sold issues for $0.75 a peace. I think we were making like $30 a week between the 3 of us. Big time!When the powers that be found out, they shut us down. (In particular, some students and teachers took offense at some of the writing in our gossip section — which probably was hurtful to some students.)

    When they shut us down, they encouraged us to write and do layout for the school newspaper, which gave us a creative outlet that was part of the reason we started the paper. But no one addressed the entrepreneurial reason we started the paper. A missed opportunity.

  • Entrepreneur

    I think teachers stunting entrepreneurship sucks.  But that is the real world.  Governments, big companies can and will shut you down in a heart beat.  

    Part of being an entrepreneur is picking a business that won’t be shut down by a much more powerful fish.

  • Martin S.

    I’ll see your elementary school and raise you one kindergarten: In our group, kids would always race to “claim” the best toys for the day, leaving the less decisive (or fast) kids disappointed. In order to mix things up a little, I took plastic flowers from an artsy board game, assembled them in different ways to represent different values (which were later dropped, as the math proved too difficult for some) and distributed them fairly among the kids. Games would be auctioned off at the start and traded for flowers during the day, some kids even traded lunch food. My attempt at introducing currency to our formerly proto-communist community was however quickly overruled after one girl started throwing a tantrum when she lost all her flowers.

  • It’s part of the real world, but I don’t think it needs to be part of school.

    If schools taught basic business skills, don’t you agree that it would give more people control of their financial lives?

  • I love that idea.

    Maybe some kids are gifted entrepreneurs the way others are gifted artists. Wouldn’t it make sense for schools to encourage both? To help both groups of kids?

  • If they didn’t like the content, they could have steered you in a different direction. Hell, they could have showed you how to grow the paper.

  • Martin S.

    You might even expand the concept of entrepreneurship to include other fields of disruptive thinking: What about the economist who might come up with the next major societal breakthrough, or the nutritional biologist whose discoveries might help feed thousands of people? Will they receive the education the deserve and require? Or will they get tired fighting windmills from an early age and get an MBA instead?

    Continue my story: Within the first half of my teens, I dug my way through Marx and most other writers heterodox economics had to offer. Clearly, for someone that age, being more interested in the structure of society than female anatomy is somewhat unusual. Still, there’s no option of telling the school “Challenge me. Engage me. I need more complex material in Politics, I want a course on Business, and I’d like a bit more lenience in Art – I didn’t draw as a kid, I made wiring diagrams and wrote stock reports in Excel. Take a step back.”

  • Entrepreneur

    You are preaching to the choir! :)

  • Good interview Andrew and Irving. I liked when Irving discussed how much thought and planning went into an idea before they started on it. 

    Before, I thought that thinking too much about something was gonna lead to analysis paralysis. But this interview showed me the correct balance of analysis to ensure you pursue an idea that’s a good fit for you.

  • I love hearing that. Thanks, Andrew.

  • yw

  • Yeah exactly. And it’s important to do this in schools.

    While (I’m guessing) lower income kids are no less likely to have the entrepreneurial spirit, they are less likely to come in contact with successful entrepreneurs than kids of higher income parents who may own a business themselves or mingle with other business owners. Not to mention that wealthy parents have the resources to fund their kid’s enterprises.

    So let’s get at these kids and support them when we can find them.
    Maybe I’ll have to get involved in my local school when my kids get older. The ironic part being that I’m thinking of relocating from my fairly blue collar neighborhood (which I otherwise like) to a more white collar neighborhood/school for my kids. My thought being that being in a school with a higher % of kids taught “you can do anything” (with the role models to prove it) would be a good environment for my kids… no matter how great of a home environment we can provide.

  • Andrew, regarding schools and why they shut down candy-sale operations, here’s what I once heard and in a sense I agree with: “… because the next step is drugs.”

    Other arguments could be the risk of students carrying large amounts of money and being jumped, or the simply distraction of all this business taking place in the school and often during actual class. 

    I agree that the punishments are often over-the-top. When I was in school a kid had his locker raided because he was selling lollypops. The Dean of Students took his entire stash which was easily $100 of wholesale lollypops. I’m sure no one reached out to him to discuss businesses.

    Also, it’s worth noting that we were always selling candy to raise money for various sports teams. Maybe they just didn’t want competition when there wasn’t a fundraising push.

  • That’s the best reason I’ve heard.

    I think there’s a solution for it, but it makes sense.

  • Another great interview.  

    I thought it was interesting that Irving went on with his ticketing idea for 6 months before realizing the challenges that he faced with the TM ticketing agreements.  Takeaway is that you should talk to your prospective clients early in the game about what may prevent them from adopting your “new” solution.  It isn’t always the best product that wins, sometime its the ones with the best lawyers/contracts.

  • Very painful.

    Here’s what I have in my notes on that:

    We spent 5-6 months with a ticket idea. When someone handed us a contract our idea made a lot less sense and we felt we had to walk away. It felt like 6 months was down the drain and we were left with no idea and had nothing. The thought obviously crossed my mind of, “are we ever going to come up with something.”

  • Thinkjc

    Andrew, nice interview. I appreciate your persistance to get answers – especially the funding bit. Even just knowing orders of magnitude provides helpful insight. Gracias!

  • Thanks.

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