CEO of 1st Merchant Funding
1) Tell me about one crazy business deal that was a defining moment in your entrepreneurial career.
I’ve been the driving force behind several business ventures and have likely had more than a few “defining moments.” But one that comes to mind was closing a large contract with B&H Photo from my bedroom at 16 years old. B&H had an awesome eCommerce team, but they couldn’t pull off an infrastructure robust enough for the Yahoo Small Business platform. In the late 90′s, the vast majority of online orders came through the Yahoo Shopping / Yahoo Small Business Platform, where entities were required to have a Yahoo Storefront to drive revenue from the Yahoo Shopping network.
Yahoo referred B&H Photo to me. I had to attend my very first board meeting, with a senior-level management team that couldn’t agree on anything, and convince them that I was the person to get the job done. A week later, I received a call notifying me that I had been awarded the contract. An $18k retainer arrived at my “office” the next day. It instantly hit me: if they believed in me, why couldn’t I scale this mainstream. The most rewarding part of the project was seeing their entire management team come together after vigorous testing and agree to instantly sign off on the contract deliverables. It was a great fit, and we exceeded their expectations. When Yahoo heard about it, they referred Nickelodeon to me; several weeks later, I closed a deal with Nickelodeon at their NYC headquarters.
2) Is there a specific quality that you feel is responsible for your success as an entrepreneur?
I can’t point to one specific quality. I’ve always been determined, and I never like to waste time. Each entrepreneur is driven by different things. Being determined and staying focused is what worked for me. My advice to other entrepreneurs: forget about today’s problems; start solving tomorrow’s.
3) If someone feels they need additional, non-yeshiva education but won’t /can’t go to college, how would you suggest they acquire the skills required to be successful in crucial areas?
With the sophisticated technology we have at our disposal today, there’s virtually nothing we can’t learn online. Some people are more hands-on and may require a specialty course. First identify what you enjoy doing, and then start looking for tutorials online. I personally encourage Business & Finance as a great starting point.