A Little Hustle Goes A Long Way

For those of you who don’t know, I studied abroad last semester in Barcelona which was incredibly fun, I learned an insane amount (mostly out of the classroom), and I was able to travel ALL of Europe.  While I loved the experience, I felt like I missed a lot being gone for so long.  As a result, I took to Twitter in order to stay connected with Boston, especially the startup/vc community.  I rarely, if ever, shot out a tweet, but instead listened.  I closely monitored the big players, observed who knew who, who did what, where most people were located and what events were being held.  It was a great eye opener for me.  Oftentimes at Babson, I feel like I’m in a little entrepreneurial bubble that isn’t really connected to anything bigger, but it soon became clear what a great community was in my distant backyard of Boston.  I couldn’t wait to get back in town and get in front of all these people during my spring semester.  Therefore, I began to develop what I think is a unique social media strategy in order to hustle my ass off once I got back to bean town.  I hope it can serve as motivation to others in my position and show how accessible some of the most influential people really are.

In an effort to start being recognized and building my personal brand, I began searching for influential people that didn’t have a huge online following.  There are VC’s like Mark Suster and Fred Wilson that have a HUGE following on their blogs, twitter, and other social mediums so it seemed a little too difficult to be able to get in front of these guys (although I’d still love to meet them).  Instead, I searched for people like Jeff Bussgang and Mike Hirshland who have blogs and tweet on occasion, but don’t necessarily attract a mass online following.  I began monitoring their media presence and attempted to create valuable comments and tweets in response to their posts with the hope that over time they would recognize me for my input (not my age) and I could meet them in person.  While this obviously took quite a bit of time, it’s slowly but surely starting to pay off.  After coming back from Barcelona, I made a goal to hustle my ass off in order to get involved in the Boston startup community so I can start building my own personal network (and hopefully find an awesome job this summer).

The last week alone has most definitely made my time commitment worthwhile.  To start, I was able to spend an afternoon with Jeff Bussgang at the Flybridge Capital offices downtown.  While getting great career advice from Jeff  was more than I could have asked for, he also allowed me to sit in on an entrepreneur’s pitch.  I got to ask questions, analyze the business, and make my own judgement after the pitch.  It served as an amazing eye opener as to what VC’s do on a daily basis, the type of questions that are asked, what an entrepreneur needs to know going into the conference room, how their answers translate into investment decisions, and most importantly what I actually need to start remembering after leaving business school (yes, you do actually have to know managerial accounting…unfortunately).  I’m now doing a short project to analyze the competition of the entrepreneur’s industry, which has also opened my eyes to many new perspectives an entrepreneur must examine.  All in all, it will serve incredibly useful for any future venture I am involved with because it won’t be my first time around the VC’s table (and I’ll already have been on the dark side…muahaha).

The next day, I finally got a reply from Mike Hirshland via twitter saying to meet him at a bar that night.  To be honest, I really don’t think he realized how young I was going to be, but I took him up on the offer anyway.  Despite having to show my ID before buying a ticket to an “R” rated movie (I look like I’m 15), the bar thankfully let me in no problem.  I seriously believe it’s because they thought I was his son.  Either way, I got to spend time face to face with Mike and learn a lot about his new firm, Resolute VC.  Going forward, I’ll hopefully be helping him out on several projects with prospective portfolio companies which is an amazing opportunity.  Despite sneaking into a bar and mingling with people that could have easily been my parents, I had a lot of fun and was able to get in front of another great influence within the Boston community.

Lastly, being from Babson I have obviously been keeping tabs on Matt Lauzon over the year.  After hearing about his involvement with Ruby Riot and the message of the event, pay it forward, I was immediately hooked.  It’s the perfect situation to get in front of a huge amount of people I’d love to get to know.  Further, it’s always tough to figure out how I can add value to these types of people.  I hate asking them to take time out of their day to help me when I can’t add much value to them.  However, the pay it forward theme of Ruby Riot is, in my opinion, an amazing opportunity.  After being on the wait list for a few weeks, I got an email yesterday that gave me 15 minutes to snatch a ticket…and I got it!  I can’t wait to be in a position in the near future in which I can  help other young hustlers out by connecting them with the right people or getting them a job.  For now, I’ve gotta work hard to get myself in that position and I honestly can’t wait for Tuesday night!!

After an amazingly educational and fulfilling week, I’m finally starting to see my social media strategy pay off.  There have been many times where it has seemed like a complete waste of time, but this week has definitely given me a ton of motivation to continue my search for a great summer job in the Boston startup community.  I had always heard how great the entrepreneurial scene was, but I never quite realized how possible it was to get my own skin in the game.  It’s such a great feeling to start having one’s hard work pay off, and I especially want to thank Jeff Bussgang, Mike Hirshland, and Matt Lauzon for making that happen.  I hope to be able to pay it forward to others in the near future.

Quote of the Day: “Action trumps everything” – Len Schlesinger, President of Babson College

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2 thoughts on “A Little Hustle Goes A Long Way

  1. It was great having you, Zach! You have a terrific future in Star-Up Land – keep up the hustle.

  2. Zach….if you ever need any assistance hustling here in Denver/Boulder area, I’d be more than happy to help connect. I too am a fellow entrepreneur, hustler and past travel abroad student so I truly do appreciate your blog. Best of luck my friend!

    Jason S. Lewis

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