So..you are ostensibly here to learn something about me that was not made clear by my sporadic tweeting. Where should we start?
I was born on December 22nd, 1986. That makes me 29 at the time I am writing this here landing page. I've spent most of my life living on the south shore of Long Island. It was a great place to grow up having Manhattan 60 minutes west and Montauk 90 minutes east. I currently live in Crown Heights with my fiancé, Lauren.
When I turned 14, I immediately went down to the school nurse to get my working papers. Up to that point, I'd mowed lawns and given seniors computer lessons to earn income. This new found legitimacy was exciting to me. Months later, I started working at the local health food store. It was a small mom and pop store on Main St. in Islip, NY. I think I started at $6/hr. I learned a lot about health food and gluten free stuff way back then before it became as widely known and adopted as it is today.
I learned a lot of important lessons at this first job, including things like putting wilting lettuce in an ice bath to perk it back up to be able to sell it. Honestly, I learned a lot about commerce. During my time at the health food store, the owners' son launched a proprietary ecommerce site for the business. We sold everything that was in the store including vitamins, supplements, and food products. I'll never forget when the owner placed "reorder online and save 10%" stickers on everything and then immediately regretted it. He exclaimed "Damnit! This is going to put us out of business." Years later, they did go out of business. It wasn't the stickers fault.
After my stint at the health food store, I worked in a small pharmacy down the block. It was a great career move for me at 15 and was more transactional in nature, which is what I got a taste of with the health food stores website. The owner of the pharmacy and I used to play around with selling surgical items on eBay at cost. It kept us busy during slow times, and we got a lot of positive feedback from thankful families in need.
Learning about business on "Main st." taught me a lot about life. On one hand, I had the hippies teaching me about running a business with perishable goods with a customer base that had disposable income to spend on all natural soap. My subsequent experience taught me a lot about life in crisis. People from all walks of life would walk through our doors in need of medicine. Some people had chronic diseases, others were drug addicts, some people were just getting vitamins for their kids. It was a little bit of everything.
In my late teens, my dad was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It sucked. It sucked a whole lot. It sucked in a way that I don't really remember the intricacies of how much it sucked because I've blocked a lot of it out. I think my years behind the pharmacy counter taught me that life can be miracles and tragedies at times.
Fast forward to my fifth year of undergrad at Farmingdale State College, I had a guest speaker in my class who was a cancer survivor volunteering for the I'm Too Young For This! Cancer Foundation. I was floored. Here are all these 20 and 30-somethings getting cancer, but doing something about it to make it suck less. Perhaps even less than my dads cancer experience sucked. I got in trouble for emailing the CEO for an internship during her presentation. I can tell you now, it was worth getting in trouble.
I showed up for my internship on January 23rd, 2010 and immediately hit the ground running getting to learn the business of non-profits. (Exciting stuff, folks!) Long story short, it was a good internship, and I became employee #2 alongside Matthew Zachary.
In 2011, I told Matt we should consider rebranding I'm Too Young For This! to simply Stupid Cancer. We had the trademark registration for the phrase, and people began calling us "those two guys from Stupid Cancer." Matt slept on it, but agreed it was a good idea. I've since written about what happened after we did that. (Click here to read more about it.)
In early 2012, I launched the Stupid Cancer Store. We had a modest ecommerce offering on third-party sites up to that point, but nothing that was really driving revenue. I think part of me also knew that if I was in it for the long haul with the cancer stuff, I needed a distraction from time to time. The online store was it.
Lucky for me, I had my experiences at the health food store and the pharmacy to draw from. Within our first year, we had a 5x increase in revenue. It proved the model that people were willing to consume. In the years following, we've doubled our revenue, and created an opportunity for people to rally around the brand.
In the summer of 2013, I was recognized as the YNPN-NYC Nonprofiteer of the Year! It was my first professional award and also the first time I had heard about YNPN-NYC. It was cool connecting with other people like me who didn't necessarily work in the cancer non-profit space.
In late 2014, I started blogging for Bigcommerce about my experiences with running an online store. This led to people asking for my help, which led to me incorporating myself. I've had fun dabbling in ecommerce consulting on nights and weekends since.
2015 was pretty cool - I got engaged to my girlfriend Lauren! She is a pastry chef at a 3-Michelin star restaurant and cooks me nice things. I also picked up a second ecommerce blog column over at Practical Ecommerce.
Most recently, I took over YNPN-NYC as Board Chair after serving in a support role for 18 months. We're a network of really interesting people trying to do great things each and every day. I'm excited to be at the helm.