Featured on Nov 07, 2011
"If someone’s not saying no to you everyday, you’re not pushing hard enough"
I grew up working in my dad’s used bookstore in Chicago and took to entrepreneurship early by starting a lucrative lemonade stand. During college I worked as a beer man and sold books in order to save up enough money to buy and renovate houses.
I’ve always been fascinated by tech and, having spent my life immersed in re-use and renovation, I moved to Brooklyn in early 2011 to launch ExchangeMyPhone. ExchangeMyPhone is a place where people can sell and recycle their old cell phones as easily as they return a Netflix DVD. My girlfriend and I formed the business plan while we were road-tripping across the country and we are proud of creating a place where people are paid for doing good.
Outside of work I go hiking whenever I can, play sports and cook up a mean apple pie. At the end of the day I feel very lucky to be living in a city I love and working with a great team.
- Title: Founder, ExchangeMyPhone
- Age: 28
- Location: Brooklyn, Carroll Gardens
- Contact: @exchangemyphone
You’ve expanded your team at ExchangeMyPhone over the summer. What do you look for when interviewing potential employees?
People we like! We are a small, dedicated team so everyone has to get along and work well together. We have sought out bright people who are willing to take risks and are excited by the opportunity to work on something fast paced and meaningful. Working in a startup means that we are attracted to people with a strong work ethic who enjoy the challenge of solving problems by brainstorming creative solutions together. We all have distinct job titles and we focus on specific areas of the business but we like working with people who will muck in and help out on any project.
Ultimately we are a team and each person has an incredible set of skills to bring to the table.
After working at your father’s bookstore for six years, what are some of the lessons that you’ve learned during that time that help you with your own business?
Do whatever it takes to make people happy. My father has always put people first, and his legacy is one of great care and integrity. At ExchangeMyPhone I wanted to follow in his footsteps and create an approachable business that people would love and want to support.
You mention that you moved to Brooklyn to launch ExchangeMyPhone. How did you end up deciding that Brooklyn was the right place to form your company?
Brooklyn is an incredible place to launch a business. The startup world in New York is burgeoning and we wanted to be involved in that communal growth. Rather than cut-throat competition we could see that the startups wanted to support each other.
We specifically chose Brooklyn because of the area’s focus on recycling and re-use efforts. We hoped that the community would welcome a new bootstrapping business that would pay customers for doing good. Luckily we have been embraced by our new home.
Finally, we knew that we needed to recycle a lot of cell phones to make a difference. When we looked at New York we saw twenty five million people using and replacing their cell phones.