Featured on Feb 18, 2011
"All I want to be is someone that makes new things and thinks about them."
As Co-Founder and COO at GetMinders, Mike heads up product development (and anything else that needs to get done on a given day). Prior to working on GetMinders Mike was, in reverse chronological order, an attorney with Cooley LLP and Pillsbury LLP, a Vice President of Technology with Catalyst Solutions, a Director of Marketing with Advertising.com (now part of AOL), a Developer with Ogilvy PR Worldwide and a Bartender.
- Title: Chief Operating Officer / Co-Founder at GetMinders
- Age: 36
- Location: Brooklyn
- Contact: @mikeoliver
There are a lot of responsibilities when starting a new company. How did you and your co-founder, Jesse Middleton, determine who was going to be responsible for what?
You know, it’s come pretty naturally so far. You’d think the former lawyer would gravitate toward business development and the former director of technology toward product development. But when it came to the biggest division of labor (technical vs. business cofounder) it was clear from jump: Jesse thrives when he is out in the world sharing ideas and getting feedback. I am at my best (and happiest) when I am making things. It’s how I figure things out. That said, along the way we switch back and forth from time to time. I incorporated the company and handle the routine paperwork and Jesse has been known to go knee deep in a server configuration or two.
You recently transitioned from being a lawyer at Cooley Godward Kronish LLP to co-found a new startup, GetMinders. How did you decide that now was the right time to make the switch? Also, were your parents upset?
In many ways, it was less of a switch and more of a return. Before law school, I spent five years working on tech startups in Washington, DC and Baltimore. I was an early employee at Advertising.com (now part of AOL) and helped design and launch a workforce-development company. Those early experiences made it clear to me that I loved the start-up environment. After law school, I naturally found my niche working on venture capital financings and counseling early stage tech companies. But I always knew that I wanted to go back to working on building a company. There really is nothing else like it.
And honestly, it wasn’t the right time to make a switch. I was two years too late. I knew I wanted to transition but I was scared. I was afraid of what my colleagues would think (and let’s be real… my parents too). My advice: If you are lucky enough to know what you want to do -- do yourself a favor and get to it. You’re not fooling anyone. They can see when you heart is somewhere else.
Noticed on Twitter that you’ve had your fair share of coffee. In your opinion, who has the best coffee here in the City?
I am pretty sure my share of coffee is anything but fair. But I’m not too picky about my cup of Joe. I tend to pick my places based on the people and the atmosphere. My first 3 years in NYC I lived two doors down from Grey Dog on Carmine and I work next to the one on University. So they get the majority of my outlandish coffee spend. Other fan faves include South Side in Park Slope and Café Pedlar in Cobble Hill.
Favorite thing to do when you’re not working on or talking about GetMinders?
Taking photographs… on film! I started collecting old manual cameras and Polaroid cameras a few years back. Everything else I do is digital. Shooting film is one of the few analog things in my life. I love how shooting film makes me more deliberate. And there is something about holding a snapshot that beats flipping through a Facebook album every time.