Featured on Feb 25, 2011
"I love helping entrepreneurs and I'm proud to be the banker in a startup t-shirt, sneakers, and a hoodie. "
I grew up on the Upper West Side, went to school at Collegiate where I spent time running and rapping. Graduated from Hunter College, did some political and non-profit fundraising, became a paralegal, and then began an exciting couple of years as an entrepreneur, journalist, and non-profit founder. I'm now a banker with MESA, a digital and media investment bank. My job is to identify promising startups and help them however I can.
- Title: Head of Business and Community Development, Mesa; Co-founder and Chairman, Standard Start
- Age: 28
- Location: West Harlem
- Contact: @JacobBrody, Empire State of Mind, Standard Start
You say that you spent your time running and rapping at Collegiate. Please elaborate.
When I was in high school I ran cross-country/track and was a rapper. I was a distance guy, so I spent most of the year training. I ran over 20 miles most weeks and ran a 5:01 mile in high school. I had a bunch of MC names, but Tricky Diction was my favorite. I even got into an MC battle with a rap group at my all-boys private school (it was really hard core). I still write rhymes from time to time, including a track that my blog was named after, “Empire Startup Mind”. I’m hoping I can throw that on Kickstarter soon and raise enough money to do a video for it.
Standard Start is a much needed and awesome idea. How do you plan on growing and expanding the organization?
The first version of the site is going to have standardized legal documents for startups with plain English explanations for each clause and a curated set of original and syndicated blog posts on topics like legal, accounting, and fundraising.
For the next version of the site, we’re partnering with a Techstars company in the e-learning space. We’re recruiting interns/volunteers right now to create interactive quizzes that will help gauge your knowledge and teach you what you need to know. Their product is great; it’s something we would have built if we’d had the budget.
We want to work with startups and other organizations to build the resources startups need. We’re excited to work with them to help startups while using and evangelizing for their products.
You mention that part of your job is to identify promising startups. In your opinion, what are some of the qualities, factors, or metrics that would make you identify a particular startup as promising?
I rely on others for an opinion on technical skills since I can’t code so I look at the quality of the people. They need to have a real passion for their product and possess a deep understanding of the problem they’re solving.
At least one founder needs to be charismatic, because you’re convincing people to take a job at a company that probabilities suggest is going to fail. I look for balanced teams, often times where you have a promoter/schemer and an executor. A good startup is like a good marriage, you need complimentary skill sets.
You grew up on the Upper West Side and named your blog Empire Startup Mind - it’s obvious you love New York. As a native New Yorker, can you tell us some of your favorite things to do here in the City that we probably wouldn’t find in a tourist guide?
I love food, so I’ll tell you my favorite restaurant for a few types of food:
- Bagels – Absolute Bagels
- Dumplings – Shun Lee
- Raw – Aquagrill
- Nachos - South’s on Church Street
- Coffee – Stumptown
- Mac & Cheese - Cafeteria
- Fast Food Chicken Sandwich- The hidden Chick-Fil-A at NYU Dorm
- Fast Food Burger – Everybody knows it, but Shake Shack = Delicious!
You never get the right answer for best bagel in New York. Absolute Bagels is hands down the best bagel. If someone says H&H has the best bagels, it’s actually legal to punch them in the face.