Category: Announcements

New Ebook: Startups <3 Customers

When I first got into startups, one of my core responsibilities was to acquire new customers.

The problem was, back then, I had no idea how to acquire new customers.

As I explored, I learned about sales and marketing, and began to understanding how they are used to acquire customers. It turns out, sales and marketing can be really fun, and really powerful.

I remember searching the internet for a how-to guide to get me started. There are plenty of blog posts out there, but they all seemed to go into too much depth, or skip the beginner stuff. I wanted something that started with the basic fundamentals so I could work my way up. Essentially, a for-dummy’s guide to sales and marketing for a B2B startup.

Fast forward a few years to now, and I decided to write that guide: Startups <3 Customers. It’s a guide to the basics of sales and marketing, particularly helpful for technical founders and employees at B2B startups.


If you want to understand what the business people actually do, or you need to get the basics of sales and marketing set up yourself, this is the guide for you.

Check it out at I hope it is helpful, and if you have any questions or feedback, email me anytime. Good luck!

10 Startup Lessons Learned in Boston

imageAfter nearly 7 amazing years in Boston, I’m excited to share that I am moving to the west coast!

Like many who graduate from college in Boston, I stayed here for several years after school. The city is overflowing with tremendous opportunity, especially in technology and entrepreneurship.

Boston will always hold a special place in my heart: it’s where I joined my first startup as COO of influencers@ and then co-founded my first funded company, The last few years in Boston have been a wild ride and I learned more than I could have ever possibly imagined. Among the takeaways:

1. Making traction in B2B comes down to one thing… revenue

It’s simple, but there is no better health indicator for a startup than revenue growth. When quickly analyzing a startup’s performance, revenue (or lack of) can enable you to quickly diagnose what areas of the business are effective vs. weak. It was clear the startups I was working on had legs when we quickly booked early revenue. In other words, “revenue cures all.”

2. Building an inside sales team is a science and an art

Sales can be just as technical as engineering. It involves tremendous training, processes, expertise and resources. Establishing the right sales team organization, putting the proper infrastructure in place and understanding the right KPIs to measure sales performance is a true skill, and I gained major respect for world-class sales people.

3. Doing Inbound marketing is critical, and takes time to get right

Trying to do sales without marketing is like eating cereal without milk. The two functions are so tightly aligned, and marketing done right revolutionizes the ability for sales reps to succeed. I learned a ton about inbound marketing, setting up a content engine, and feeding marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to hungry sales teams.

4. Moving fast can reduce your risk

In early stage startups, I learned to measure performance on a weekly basis. It sounds overly intense, but in that stage, every week counts. Understanding progress indicators (from revenue to qualified sales opportunities to new product features released) can help you understand how to allocate resources. Startups rarely die from trying to move too fast. It happens, but it’s far more likely that a startup will die from moving too slow.

5. Recruiting is absurdly expensive and time consuming

There are few things more challenging for a startup leader than finding the right people to join the team. Between finding them (cold email reach outs, recruiters, LinkedIn), selling the vision, getting to an effective comp package and crafting the right role to leave them beaming with excitement, recruiting can be a full-time job.

6. When in doubt, just get it done yourself

There’s a common dogma that you should try to delegate as much as possible, and I quickly realized that while it’s a good general philosophy to hire by, it’s not always true with the reality of deadlines. Leading a startup is a mix of personally cranking through tasks to get them done, and building systems and processes that empower the people around you to get things done faster and smarter.

7. Understanding legal docs is crucial

Especially for those who are more product-driven, few things are more boring than legal. During my time in Boston, I got to dive into lots of legal documents, from vendor agreements to bylaws. There is simply no way around it: running a startup means understanding every aspect of everything you sign. No excuses. Read and ask lots of questions.

8. Never be cheap on basic office comforts

Items like snacks and water coolers and other office comforts, even in the very early stage, make a big difference for the team. The cost is so relatively low, and the impact is so high. Don’t even give it much thought – just buy whatever is going to keep your team happy, focused and productive.

9. Surround yourself with mentors that are doing the same thing at a later stage

I found that the best mentors were often the ones that were currently operating a company at a slightly later stage than whatever I was working on at the time. This gave them fresh experience and a real-time pulse on the challenges a startup leader is facing now. The power of “pay if forward” mentorship helped me through the toughest challenges.

10. Developing technical and non-technical skills is a winning combination

Often, the most valuable people in startups understand the basics of both technical and non-technical skills. Being involved in a technology startup, everyone should understand the core of how software works. Simultaneously, in a sales-driven environment, everyone technical should understand the core of how sales works.

On a more personal note, I am going to miss my friends and mentors in Boston… it’s truly a special place and I can’t express enough gratitude to everyone in the entrepreneurship community there who helped me along the way.

It’s a new chapter: I’m thrilled to be in San Francisco and can’t wait to learn as much as I can. If you’re reading this and you’re  in the Bay Area, shoot me an email – I would love to meet you!

Creating an Empire

imageNow that Attendware has $1M in funding, it’s time to build a team create an empire in Boston. We are officially hiring 2 teammates: a Full Stack Software Engineer and a Sales & Marketing Specialist. I’ve watched amazing entrepreneurs like Ryan Durkin build world-class teams in Boston for venture funded startups. Drew and I are excited to take the plunge and make Attendware the absolute best team in the city. 

When people ask why they should join us on this journey, I’d break it down to a couple of reasons:

1. We have a tremendous market opportunity.

We closed our funding early and quickly because of how much traction Attendware has received early on. It seems like everyone we talk to – in many different markets – wants a piece of the action. We have barely scratched the surface… this is just the beginning.

2. We are backed by the best investors and advisors in Boston.

.406 Ventures wins. Period. Their track record speaks for itself – they only invest in companies that they are confident can be homerun successes. On top of that, Maria Cirino is one of the finest mentors that one could ask for in Boston.

3. Everything is up for grabs – especially culture.

We are building everything from the ground up. Our first employees will have a huge impact on our company culture as it evolves. So far, our culture focuses around openness, speed and quick iteration to demonstrate tangible results. Plus lots of food to fuel us. And occasional trips to the beach to get ice cream in between shipping iterations of product.

4. We are relentless and don’t stop until we win.

We are a team that works hard – extremely hard. When it comes to teammates, we are immensely picky and go to great lengths to surround ourselves with only the best, hardest working people that have what it takes to grow a product from startup to big success. 

So, if you or someone you know can help take Attendware to the next level and come on board with us, please shoot me an email, I’d love to chat!

We’re Venture Funded Entrepreneurs!

Last September, I wanted to learn to code and help the Northeastern University Entrepreneurs Club. So, I built the initial prototype for Sign In App, a software application that easily tracked attendance at club meetings. Now 9 months later, that prototype became my next company, Attendware, and I’m thrilled to announce that we just closed Series A funding of $1M from .406 Ventures.

Together with Drew D’Agostino and soon to be many others, we are building the future of event and member data technology. Attendware is the fastest growing event check in and auto name tag printing software, creating a superior guest experience and saving hours of preparation time for event organizers within higher education, non-profits and trade organizations. We’re proud to be based in Boston and count many local organizations and schools among our first customers.

In the short few months that I’ve been a part of Attendware, there’s already been a tremendous amount of learning. Some of the key lessons so far:

1. Great things can happen by accident

Attendware started as a simple side project for the purpose of learning and having something fun to build. It wasn’t until Cory Bolotsky proposed using Attendware for MassChallenge that it became apparent that the product solves problems for many people, not just the Entrepreneurs Club. It was his encouragement and ideas that helped take Attendware to where it is today.

2. Great things can happen at home

Northeastern University was a perfect launching pad for Attendware. We’ve received outstanding support and mentorship from senior leaders at the university and have leveraged Northeastern to test new ideas and quickly iterate on the product. It was Jack Moynihan and Jack McCorkle in Northeastern’s Alumni Relations office that became our first paying enterprise customer.

3. Great things can happen when you have strong relationships

I’ve gotten to know the partners at .406 Ventures as mentors since sophomore year of college. Over the past several years, I’ve developed a strong relationship with them, and that relationship contributes to their belief in our success and their excitement in investing in first-time funded entrepreneurs.

4. Great things can happen when you’re surrounded by world-class people

Drew D’Agostino and I go back a while… from collaborating at the Entrepreneurs Club to living together for 2 years during college. We compliment each other in technical and business abilities, and have way too much fun working together. I’ve also quickly realized how important one’s real friends, like Matt Bilotti, are when going through the challenge of launching a company and raising money. Additionally, many of our customers and advisors, like Leila Eid and Mike Perry, have become strong supporters and friends.

5. Great things can happen when you take risks

When Jack first asked us for a contract and price to use Attendware at Northeastern, we were pretty scared (especially because we didn’t have a contract nor did we have any clue how to make one). Taking Attendware from project to business has been a stressful and thrilling journey so far, and we’re still at the ground floor. When Drew and I debated on whether to move forward with selling to Northeastern, we said, “Amazing things will only happen if we take risks and try this. All of the successful entrepreneurs didn’t get that way by taking the easy road.” So far, it has proven to be a good choice.

6. Great things can happen when you persist

Everything about launching Attendware has been far more challenging than I imagined it would be. I remember nearly 1.5 years ago the pressure of getting a big enough room for the Entrepreneurs Club’s 150 weekly attendees. Now the pressure is on to close real enterprise sales, manage $1M of investor money and build a high growth technology company. Our relentless persistence in solving problems and iterating have been key to push through.

Being the CEO of a venture backed company is a new and exciting chapter. I’m grateful to everyone that has helped along the way and am so excited for what I’m going to learn from close mentors like Maria Cirino. Here we go…

10 Lessons Learned as COO of influencers@


It’s bittersweet to share that this was my last week as COO of influencers@. After 1 year with the company, I’ve decided to take a step back and explore other opportunities. This was my first post-graduation role and first time running a real business with employees, cash and customers. It was an amazing ride and I learned more than I could have ever imagined. Specifically:

1. How to hire people

I recruited nearly the entire team… 15 fantastic entrepreneurs, marketers, salesman, operators and more. Creating an interview process, learning about the different recruiting channels and being able to identify proper culture fit were all great challenges thrown my way over the past year.

2. How to do accounting, billing and payroll

When I joined influencers@, I took over all of our accounting, managing the P&L, billing our customers and paying our employees and contractors. I gained a deeper understanding for managing cash flow, properly categorizing expenses and creating sustainable billing and pay practices (pay and bill on-time, collect in 30 days, etc).

3. How to create process for a cranking business

As we grew, I had many opportunities to create processes that made our operations more efficient and cost effective. From our weekly check-ins to one goal a day system, I found numerous ways to boost team productivity.

4. How to manage people that rely on me for a pay check

Managing volunteers at the NU Entrepreneurs Club was very different than our paid team members at influencers@. Knowing they relied on Spencer and I for a pay check added a lot of pressure that I’m glad I experienced as a young manager.

5. How to code software

When the college marketing agency expanded, I realized the necessity for a more powerful way to manage our workflow and track our data. I then sought out to build Campaign Tracker, a PHP web application that managed the entire lifecycle of our business, from event scheduling to payroll.

6. How to recruit developers

Finding capable technical leaders is a challenge for any start-up. I learned how to leverage my network and bring on hackers like David Thor to help create advanced architecture for a web product.

7. How to fire people

I needed to let several people go during my time as COO, and it was one of the harder things I’ve ever had to do. A post is coming soon describing the lessons I learned on how to fire someone properly. 

8. How to build a company culture

Culture is key, and at influencers@ there is a unique one. My business-style with Spencer’s wackiness made for a fun and productive work environment. From setting the tone of the office to taking group trips, I experienced culture building at it’s finest.

9. How to engage with vendors

I established relationships with many vendors, negotiated volume discounts and set-up proper processes for paying our invoices in a timely manner. Dealing with other businesses on a peer level was different than the interactions I had as a student at Northeastern – and a welcomed experience.

10. How to setup scalable IT for a start-up

There were many software applications I tested and implemented for our team, from Quickbooks to Producteev. I learned about the value of cloud management solutions like Google Apps (every single file our team worked on was based in the cloud). 

I’ll be announcing my next move soon, so stay tuned and please reach out if you have any advice to share.

Most importantly, I owe a huge thanks to Spencer Bramson, who gave me a chance last year to have a shot at running a company. He gave me real responsibility and a fantastic first role in my post-Northeastern career. I know he will go on to do great things, and wish him and influencers@ the best!

Entrepreneurs Club Semester Finale

Just a few years ago I wandered into the Entrepreneurs Club as a freshmen. There were about 10 people in the room. Fast forward several years, and the Entrepreneurs Club is now one of the largest student organizations at Northeastern University and in July 2011 was ranked the #6 collegiate entrepreneurship club in the world, sitting near titans like Yale, Oxford and Harvard Business School. Each week, 75-100 students come out to the club’s exciting get togethers and our email newsletter is sent to a whopping 2,000 recipients in the University community every Monday. A team of 24 passionate student leaders run the organization, and do so with a $34,000 budget, all fund raised by the students themselves.

This semester, we’ve attracted incredible speakers like the founder of Newbury Comics, COO of CampusLive, President of Strong Women Strong Girls and many more. The Husky Startup Challenge graduated 18 new student ventures, awarded $5,500 in prizes and even had 300+ attendees, including President Aoun. Our members landed great co-op jobs at startups like Perkstreet and Zeo. We expanded into the College of Engineering with EGG weekend, where 9 new physical products were created and $2,000 in prizes awarded. On top of that, together with IDEA and CRI, we helped to launch the Prototype Fund and awarded over $15,000 in grants to students to build prototypes for their ventures.

The Entrepreneurs Club has been the defining factor of my college experience. Every co-op job and internship I earned as an undergrad was a direct result of meeting awesome people at the club. The E-Club was my first major management experience, and the learning opportunities were plentiful. More specifically, I learned:

1. How to manage people

From motivation to delegation, I gained exposure to many different management techniques and found a passion for team building and coordinating a large group of people.

2. When you have to be bureaucratic

I gained an understanding for why larger organizations start to add bureaucracy and learned that some bureaucracy is necessary while too much can stifle creativity and innovation.

3. The value of brand and design

The Entrepreneurs Club was so successful in part because of excellent branding and design work by our Creative Director, Wells Riley.

4.  How to motivate students 

Student engagement is a powerful tool. I learned about what motivates college students and how to get them excited and passionate about something in order to produce quality.

5. Event planning and logistics

The Entrepreneurs Club is an event planning power house. I learned how to properly execute high profile events and all of the little details that go into them

6. Coordinating with “the man” (administration)

Being in a leadership role in a student organization provides an opportunity to deal with upper-level administration. I leaned how to ask the right questions, get the right resources and gain significant exposure.

7. The importance of aritculating a mission and vision

I figured this out half way through the year: it is important to have a clear mission and vision that everyone in the organization understands. I worked with senior leaders in the group like Cory Bolotsky to craft a great one for the E-Club.

8. How to innovate your way out of challenges

Our team got thrown challenge after challenge this year, from having a room that was 3 sizes too small for our events to keeping everyone dedicated while balancing full course loads. Time after time we had to be creative to work around these challenges and succeed as a group.

9. The value of a strong culture and team unity

The E-Club’s culture might be its most valuable asset. We created an entity that people feel truly passionate about. As a result, they pour their hearts into making it the best it can be.

10. How work and fun should blend together as one

Finally, I learned a lot about work-life balance, and how to deal with a lack of one. Ultimately, it is great to have work be fun and let it all blend together. That is certainly how it was with team E-Club.

It has been an honor to lead such an outstanding organization, and our entire team of dedicated members worked so hard to make all of it possible. 

To the Eboard of 2012-2013… have a blast, keep building and get us to #1 in the world. 

Becoming an Influencer

I am very excited to announce that I will be joining the team at influencers@ as COO after graduation!

Influencers@ is an influence marketing agency that hits the streets and interwebs to help brands and solutions become the most talked about, wanted, and shared among the 18 to 30 year old demographic. We generate and delivers influence marketing via word of mouth campaigns, product sampling, street team promotions, brand ambassador programs, event promotion, staffing and promo tours. We also just launched our first software product, ChatterMob, which is currently in private beta. 

I first met the Chief Imagination Officer (CEO), Spencer Bramson, at the beginning of the semester when I invited him to be a speaker at the NU Entrepreneurs Club. The room was packed with students wanting to hear the story of how a 7 month old startup run by a 22 year old CEO could be earning revenue, running marketing promotions for major events like CollegeFest and here is the kicker – they have a ball pit in the office. I am incredibly excited about this company, and here is why:

1. Spencer Bramson is an absolute maniac

When Spencer spoke at the E-Club, we named the event “Marketing Maniac” and it fit perfectly. Spencer is the kind of guy that gets stuff done, and in the business world that means he delivers value to customers and drives revenue. He previously co-founded BuzzU and grew the revenue to over 6 figures at the ripe age of 20. Put simply, Spencer is a business rockstar.

2. We are earning revenue and profit… cash!

There is something to be said in the startup world about actually making money. After immersing myself in the Northeastern and Boston entrepreneurial ecosystem, I found that I am most attracted to companies that have simple business models: we deliver value to a customer and that customer pays us. Turning a profit at 8 months old is impressive and it is a cornerstone of the influencers@ culture. We are a business and darn proud of it.

3. A culture of ball pits, nerf guns and feety pajamas

This company easily has the most unique culture I have ever seen. There is a ball pit in the office. There is a wall of nerf guns. My sign-on bonus included a pair of feety pajamas, which I am encouraged to wear at the office. There is a lot more to this culture than meets the eye… it is a fascinating exercise in creating an atmosphere that is super appealing to college students to work in. 

4. Mix of service and tech product

On one side, we offer our clients influence marketing services in the form of campaigns, events, product sample distribution, etc. At the same time, we have just launched our first product into private beta, ChatterMob, which is a web platform where all you have to do for free stuff is chat. This unique mix of both service and product offerings provides a ton of exposure for anyone involved to see how different models can work together.

5. Wicked cool customers

We ran the marketing campaigns for CollegeFest and other clients include CampusLive and Mr. Youth. For a tiny new start-up, influencers@ has attracted an impressive list of paying customers, and this is just the beginning.

6. Building a key core competency: customer acquisition

Every entrepreneur knows that one of the greatest challenges is customer acquisition. When it comes to acquiring users and building brand awareness in the 18-30 year old demographic, we kick ass. That is why we love to work with local start-ups like PXT MoneyJebbit and SplashScore to help them build their user-base.

7. Learning and mentor-ship opportunities

My philosophy is that you learn best by doing. influencers@ is giving me an opportunity to take on serious responsibility and learn the way every entrepreneur should: by being in the trenches and having pressure. On top of that, I have an excuse to engage with fantastic mentors like Ryan Durkin to learn the ins and outs of operations. 

8. A wide open path to grow

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this opportunity is the potential to grow. We have ideas, but there is no way to really know what influencers@ will be like 18 months from now. By being part of a start-up that has the flexibility to capitalize on new opportunities that come our way, the possibilities are endless. And wow is that exciting.

I’m Back! Update on the Entrepreneurs Club

Alright, I admit it – I’ve slacked on this blog. I mean seriously, my last post was in October. But have no fear, I’m back with the energy and enthusiasm of a kid after eating an entire box of oreos (or me, after eating an entire box of oreos…)

The past semester has been an incredible journey. In addition to finally being a senior, I took on the reigns as President of the Northeastern University Entrepreneurs Club. I first got involved with the club my freshmen year when there was rarely more than 15 people in the room at any given meeting. Now, our team has grown the organization to be one of the largest at the university, attracting 100+ students every week to our kick ass Get Togethers, where we invite a passionate speaker, network, build skills and enjoy free pizza with our community of student entrepreneurs.

By the numbers since September, Entrepreneurs club members have launched 17 new student ventures, picked up thousands of dollars in funding, signed up hundreds of new customers for Zaarly, mentored 40 low-income high school students, invited 11 CEOs and founders to speak and created leadership opportunities for dozens of students at Northeastern.

The club has grown like no other, and it is all thanks to the entrepreneurial attitude of our members. Students have created new programs, reached out to C-level executives, led activities and ultimately demenstrated how Northeastern’s worldclass programs prepare students to not only get lots of job offers, but to create their own jobs.

This role has been one of the best experiences I have had the privilege of earning during my college career. I have learned so much about managing people, scaling an organization, event planning and execution, fundraising and a myriad of other invaluable skills. I’m looking forward to continuing the momentum this upcoming spring semester!

The End of an Era – 7 Years of Armonk Web

Armonk Web & Computer Solutions was my first company – co-founded as freshmen at Byram Hills High School in 2004 with Jeremy Blum and Zach Lynn. The company started out providing PC support services, and later moved into deeper small business IT consulting and ultimately website development. To date, the firm has created 80+ websites for small businesses across the country. In 2008, I moved the company to Boston, MA so I could continue web development while attending Northeastern University. By operating Armonk Web, I learned a ton of lessons as a young entrepreneur:

  • The customer is king – ultimate goal is to please the customer
  • Web design is a great business to be in – everyone needs it – opens doors
  • Develop skills that not everyone has – technical skills are highly valuable
  • Learn how to speak the language – technical acronyms are everywhere

Overall, Armonk Web has been a fantastic experience for me to learn how a business works and the basics of entrepreneurship. It served me well and I enjoyed working with all of my wonderful clients. As of today, I have left Armonk Web to focus on some even more exciting opportunities on the horizon (more details coming soon!)

I’m joining the blogosphere! Long Overdue.

When I first purchased in high school, my initial plan was to use the domain as a blog. Fast forward 5 years and now I am finally actually launching a blog – on tumblr. I’ll be writing about my passions: entrepreneurship, technology, cycling, the outdoors, and of course random rants. Thanks for reading – I’m looking forward to sharing some insights!