What are some highlights from your professional background?
My first and best career-oriented job came when I had the opportunity to work in the 1980 Reagan for President campaign – and then to work in the White House for four years – as a writer and economist. After some other political and writing gigs (including a long stint as a contributing writer for BusinessWeek), I started a second career in the Internet industry, working mostly in startups, which is what eventually led me to the great fortune of being able to work at Crowdz.
Why was Crowdz a match for you?
From a personal perspective, I love working in startup companies, in the Internet industry, and on software-development projects, all of which are what Crowdz does. More broadly, I find it very rewarding to work on initiatives that improve people’s lives, which Crowdz – in providing invoice-financing for struggling small-businesses that are critical to so many people’s life and well-being – certainly does.
What’s your role?
Chief Strategy Officer, co-founder, head of the financial risk-rating functions, and co-lead for research and development.
What are some of the hats you wear (known or unknown)
Baseball hat, winter hat, sombrero, … oh, you weren’t being literal, were you? Sorry.
Idea generation & validation
Research & development
Strategy concepting & validation
Why were you interested in working with Crowdz?
A few years ago, I had developed a new concept for product search and Crowdz at the time was building a product marketplace, and so it seemed like a natural fit, especially since I loved working in fast-paced, innovative startup environments (of course, we both transformed since then into what I hope are better versions of ourselves). But actually joining Crowdz was somewhat of a miraculous event for me. I had worked for nearly a decade with Jack Cox, a political research and communications genius, who was frequently looking for new business opportunities for us to work together. One day, he told me that his nephew was starting a company and needed a writer for a public relations project. And so, a few weeks later, I was introduced to a man named Payson Johnston, who just happened to be the CEO of a company called Crowdz. The more we worked together, the more exciting and interesting the opportunity became, and eventually I was working full-time and, along with my colleague Tom Underwood, helped Paysonto build the conceptual foundations for what would turn into the most innovative startup I had ever worked with.
What makes Crowdz unique?
Its remarkable vision, which is mostly attributable to its CEO, Payson Johnston. And that vision is manifest in – and underlies – Crowdz’s exceptional success, which few startups are privileged to experience. Although he had an extensive corporate management background, Payson himself had never run a business before he started Crowdz. And yet, his vision – and the vision that we all worked together to develop – was so powerful that we were accepted into some of the world’s premier startup accelerators (something that only about 1% of applying companies achieve). And we won early-stage and Series A funding from some of the industry’s leading investment firms – all without having a completed product nor any consistent revenue. And yet, in just the past year, that vision has paid off, as we have achieved a trajectory that few startups can claim. The blessings of that mixture of extraordinary elements is at the heart of Crowdz, and what makes it truly unique.
What is the future for Crowdz?
World domination.* Short of that, we are going to become the world’s leading source for invoice and receivables financing for small and midsize enterprises, and so help today’s struggling small businesses to reclaim their future, and so rescue the dreams of hundreds of thousands of small business owners and the jobs and livelihood of millions of people throughout the world. (*I just noticed that Tom Underwood said the same thing in his profile, which only goes to show that he has spent way too much time around me.)
What’s one fun fact we don’t know about you?
I spent a good share of spare time earlier in my life writing fiction and screenplays, and finally was able to get a novel published several years ago. I was also privileged to win an international novel-writing contest (with a different novel) several years before that. But, alas, writing stories like that takes more mental and creative energy and discipline than I have the time and patience for anymore.
If you could choose anyone as your mentor, who would you pick?
Someone who could make me a better person. Actually, I have a mentor in my wife, who is far wiser and inspired than I will ever be.
What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
Translating video scripts into English from Spanish – a language that I never learned to speak despite having taken three years of classes in it in high school and college.
If you could learn anything what would it be?
To be serene and never let anything bother me.
What is the first concert you attended?
Chicago, although the most impressive experience was sitting on the front row for Peter Gabriel’s “So” tour. And the most fun concerts were being right up front in very small venues (in separate events) to see Al Stewart, Thomas Dolby, Lene Lovich, and A Flock of Seagulls.
If you have 30-minutes of free time how do you pass the time?
Sleep. Seriously. Back when I was in my early 20s and was traveling all around the country on the Presidential campaign, my boss said to do three things every chance you had – eat, sleep, and use the bathroom – since your chances of doing so would be very limited. At least for the sleep part, it turned out to be some of the best advice I ever received.