Featured on Apr 19, 2012
"It's more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy. - Steve Jobs"
After graduating from Duke, I embarked upon an exciting career as an analyst on the media/tech coverage team at Citigroup...but it didn't take me very long to realize that I was far more interested in the nuts and bolts of the start-ups we were financing than whether or not they'd met their debt covenants that quarter. Eager to gain operational experience in the dot-come scene, I joined TheLadders.com as something of a "renaissance analyst;" I worked there for three years and had the amazing opportunity to take on a variety of marketing and business development roles and to help the company grow from 30 to 300 employees and to over 3 million members. Anxious to introduce bucolic New Hampshire to all the wonders of the Internet (and to improve my skiing), I left TheLadders in 2009 to pursue my MBA at Dartmouth; while I was studying at Tuck, I launched my own analytics consulting firm and supported supported SapientNitro on a number of its client engagements as well as a host of early-stage companies looking to get smart about data.
During my second year of business school, I met Ben McKean and Dan Leahy and was introduced to what was then VillageVines; the rest is history. I've watched our company take on VC investment, expand to 10 cities, re-brand to Savored.com, and hire the most passionate and committed team I've ever come across. When people ask me what I love most about my job, I say it's the fact that I've never thought so much as once about calling in sick.
My mom always tells people that she finds it bewildering that such a conservative person could be such an aggressive "risk taker" with her career (as it relates to joining early-stage ventures). I disagree completely - surrounding myself with the smartest and most passionate people I can find seems anything but risky to me.
- Title: VP Marketing, Savored.com
- Age: 29
- Location: Flatiron District
- Contact: @dukecass
What do you think makes Savored so successful amongst a sea of daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial?
Our key point of difference is definitely our emphasis on the merchant. We are very much a two-sided marketplace with both B2B and B2C customers, but the B2B customers (restaurants) always come first at Savored. We build ongoing andsolvent relationships with our merchant partners - we only want to help them when they need us. As such, our merchant partners have full control over the days and times when they offer discounted tables. In other words, whereas most of the daily deal sites out there are simply about inspiring trial in some short-tenor period, we are focused on incremental profitability for our businesses on an indefinite basis - if the restaurant is busier in the summer, they can dial back how many tables they give to Savored during those months and so on and so forth.
You said that you were a "conservative person" and that your mother never expected you to work in the tech industry. Did you think that you would be working in something "risky" like the startup world when you were younger, or did you imagine yourself doing something more mainstream?
I'm ashamed to admit that my career ambitions were very mainstream. I wanted to be an intellectual property attorney until the summer I actually worked for an IP attorney during college (turns out my boss was awesome - he's still a mentor to me to this day - but the work...eh). So logically, when that didn't work out, I figured a career in banking would open a lot of doors down the line. I ultimately decided to go the start-up route because while I was working as an analyst for media and tech companies, I found myself fascinated by the operational descriptions in their earnings reports and highly disinterested in analyzing things like their debt covenants. Interestingly, when I left Citigroup to join TheLadders in 2006, the start-up scene in NYC was very much in its early stages, and people thought I had legitimately lost my mind. It's been thrilling for me to watch the evolution of the scene here ever since and to watch our field become as coveted and sought after as it is today.
You've been teaching marketing classes through Skillshare since last year. What lead you to start teaching on Skillshare?
I love talking about data and more importantly, how to act on it, so the idea of hosting a whole room of people actually interested in hearing me deliver my tirades was very exciting to me! All kidding aside though, I am a huge believer of what I call the "Jason Goldberg School of Thought," or transparency, and I believe my Skillshare course is a great way to be transparent the critical importance about analytics and optimization. I trade notes with a lot of marketing people in the Internet space, and business analytics are a big, big problem for many of these companies, namely because they are either trying to plug a square peg into a round hole with "blanket" industry metrics that don't make sense for their businesses, or because they simply aren't tracking the right things. This is why I started teaching with Skillshare; the reason I've continued with it is because of the caliber of students that the program attracts - they are highly engaged and actually help craft the course in an iterative way through provocative questions and discussions. I could go on and on about this; Skillshare is my favorite start-up here in New York.
What are some of your favorite places to eat on the curated Savored list?
I make a point to try at least 1-2 new Savored spots each month so that I'm keeping on my toes, but I certainly also have my "go-to" favorites! For more casual meals with friends, I'm a big fan of Havana Alma de Cuba and Betel in the West Village as well as Almond (Flatiron). When I'm in the mood for a more sophisticated setting, I love Rouge Tomate.