Tell me about being an entrepreneur.
I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I grew up with a paper route and when high school dances got canceled, I rented out a club and organized my own. I fell in love with the jewelry industry and started Gemvara in 2007.
What’s your role at Techstars?
I showed up to an event two years ago. I remember thinking, “Is this a good idea? I have a lot to prove.” I was thinking to myself how lucky I was to even be there and meet people. This year and last, I did an intimate, no tweeting, closed doors, completely confidential session about what it’s been like getting my company off the ground. I just turned 27 so I’m a young person running a 70 person company and we’re growing like crazy. I try to be completely open about the ups and downs of it all and it’s been really well received. Last year I spent a lot of time with Hardi Meybaum and the GrabCAD team. One of the things I love the most about mentoring at Techstars is that it becomes a peer relationship, just like Brad Feld always says.
I know you’re a Pinterest enthusiast. Why?
From my perspective, there is a massive frontier opening up on what I call the the emotional web; the movement of people who haven’t already been savvy are finally getting comfortable curating and creating things online and it’s a massive opportunity. We’re believers in that another Amazon can and will be built. Places like Pinterest build a relationship, not a transaction.
I think the first time I learned about you was your appearance on #ScotchoClock but your name is synonymous in Boston with the hashtags #RubyRiot #payitforward.
I’m a really big supporter in paying it forward and for me it started when a guy that I went to the school I went to heard I needed $20K to get my company off the ground. He essentially gave me the check. Rather than worry about paying him back one day, he said to do the same for another student once Gemvara became successful. Boston and the startup world are a safe place to learn and make mistakes. It’s such a perfect place to make mistakes.