1. How has your career path changed up until now?
I have been an entrepreneur for as long as I remember. I started my first company that built web applications over 20 years ago. When I started college I continued to run my businesses and had the opportunity to intern on Wall Street as investment banking summer analyst for two consecutive summers at a large bulge-bracket firm. While I learned a lot during my internships on Wall Street, my experience confirmed for me that I was still an entrepreneur at heart. When I graduated, I knew I had a strong finance education as well as a passion for entrepreneurship and for me, I determined the natural intersection for finance and entrepreneurship was venture capital. When I graduated in 2008, the economy was in turmoil, but I was fortunate to be recruited by an emerging venture advisory company, Solidea Capital – part of the Acquis Consulting Group family of companies. That was over 15 years ago and I haven't looked back since as I happen to be one of the fortunate few that have had the pleasure of spending most of their professional career at the same organization, which I believe is a testament to the dynamic culture and collaborative support I’ve had throughout my career.
2. Did you have a mentor who helped you get to where you are now? If so, what would you say is the most important thing you learned from your mentor?
Of course! Throughout my professional career, I’ve had several mentors both formal and informal. My mentors encourage me when I need guidance, are a sounding board to bounce ideas off of and in some cases, they serve as my advocates and champions on my behalf. I firmly believe that mentorship truly is a “cheat code” for learning from the mistakes and best-practices of others, while providing assurance that you always have someone in your corner.
3. What advice would you give to those pursuing their first business venture?
Be flexible. Just like in life, when building a business, things will not always go as planned. Having a plan Z is necessary. The best and most successful founders learn to “adapt and attack.” Know what you know and be humble enough to know what you don’t know and look to have smart people fill those gaps. You may get lucky with early traction, but luck provides no assurance for long-term success.
4. How do you overcome risk when it comes to making business decisions?
I don’t think one truly “overcomes” risk. Risk is managed – and managing risk requires thoughtful analysis of the risks and deploying strategies that may dampen the impacts of negative outcomes. Taking risks becomes reckless gambling when you don’t fully understand the nature and impact of the risks you take.
5. Why did you decide to become a mentor/ investor for the Hospitality Innovation Hub Incubator?
I decided to become a mentor for two primary reasons:
1) I value mentorship. In my experience, mentorship has provided me with valuable guidance as I’ve made key decisions about my career and endeavors. There is value in learning from folks who’ve been there before, and I want to offer some of what I’ve learned to those starting their entrepreneurship journey.
2) I’m passionate about learning from emerging founders, about their companies, especially in the travel and hospitality industry where my firm and I have deep expertise and relationships, and are always looking for new technologies and opportunities coming to market.
6. What book are you currently reading?
Coincidentally, I’m currently reading Unreasonable Hospitality: The Remarkable Power of Giving People More Than They Expect by Will Guidara.
I also just recently started Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon, by Michael Lewis on the plight of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.