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Featured on Mar 03, 2011

Jen Rubio

"Everyday I'm hustlin'…"


Jen creates big brand strategies around mobile apps and social media at Carrot Creative, the best company in the world. She's also a co-founder at GourmetLend and teaches Social Media at Miami Ad School's Brooklyn campus. She's passionate about community building, entrepreneurship, and the intersection of technology with food and fashion. Jen is a maniacal early adopter and, yes, she really did get @jennifer on Twitter. Travel is in her blood—Jen has been to over thirty countries in six continents and has lived in Manila, Los Angeles, Paris, and Seville. Formerly bi-coastal, she's back in New York for good with her Boston Terrier puppy at her side.

  • Title: Digital Strategist at Carrot Creative, Co-founder at GourmetLend
  • Location: West Village
  • Contact: Jen Rubio, @jennifer

You say that you work at the best company in the world.  In your opinion, makes Carrot Creative the best?

Above everything, it's the culture. Every single person at Carrot is not only really good at what they do, they're passionate about it. You know how companies are always looking for ninjas and rockstars and gurus? Well, that's us, except we would never embarrass ourselves by using those words.

If you're going to spend such a huge chunk of your life working, you might as well love it. Everyone I work with lives by that and it does wonders for the work environment. Carrot doesn't take on projects or clients that we don't believe in, and because of that, we work harder and better for the ones we do have and love. The founders and early employees established an amazing culture and everyone they hire becomes a part of it. I really lucked out—I get to work in a familial, all-hands-on-deck, startup environment, but get to make things for some of the biggest brands in the world.

Back in December you mentioned on tumblr that your relationship with your boyfriend was sparked by the reblog of a post that you wrote about running.  Any other good stories that were sparked by something you had posted on the Internet?

Yes! So many of my relationships and opportunities have been sparked by interactions that began with the Internet. When I lived in LA, I "met" Dave Lifson through his blog. Just a few weeks later, I was in NYC and starting a part-time gig with Postling (which eventually turned into full-time, remote work as their Community Strategist). This was my first foray into the startup world, and it all came out of a few comments on his blog.

My current gig was sparked online, too. I posted a status on Facebook that Mike Germano liked, and we started chatting on Facebook. A few hours later, I was meeting with all three Carrot co-founders at Pub One in DUMBO and the day after that, I had a job offer in the form of a DM on Twitter.

I've met countless friends, business partners, and investors through things I've blogged, tweeted, and posted—as cheesy as it sounds, it's a huge part of why I believe in the power and reach of social media.

You're in the midst of launching your own startup, GourmetLend, which can be summarized as the "Netflix for kitchenware."  Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs who want to do their own startup but have a full-time job they love?

You have to have a lot of faith in your idea and in what you're doing. One of my best friends hates his day job, and working on his startup on nights and weekends is his reprieve from corporate hell. I think it's actually harder when you love what you're getting paid to do, but also really believe in your idea. It's about focus at my job and on the startup: the more I know what I need to do, the less time I waste, and the more I get done. If you commit to this lifestyle, there's not much room to screw around.

Another crucial piece of advice is to embed yourself in the startup scene. I'm lucky because I work in digital, but this is key especially if your full-time gig doesn't allow for those kinds of interactions on the daily. When you get out of work, go to NYTM, go to Entrepreneurs Roundtable, go to Tech Founders NYC and Hackers & Founders. The network you create and the things you learn from fellow entrepreneurs are going to be as valuable as the time you spend on your product.

Oh, and don't expect to sleep.

You note that you were formally bi-coastal.  How did you end up choosing New York to be your permanent home?

I spent almost three years in LA wishing I was back in NYC—and a huge chunk of those years flying back and forth between the two cities—so while I did make my final decision on a whim, I know that I made the right choice. The New York tech scene has become an incredible thing to be a part of, and I couldn't bear to spend any more time being 3,000 miles away from it. I feel like I'm in exactly the right place at the right time for the things I want to be doing and that is one of the best feelings in the world.

Social Media, Digital Strategist