What’s your background?
As an early sales leader at Vimeo, I experienced the power of social media to influence social movements. That gave me a deep desire to find a way to leverage that influence for good, and that laid the groundwork for Cluster. Our mission is to weaponize kindness, slow judgment and create micro-moments for people to connect around shared ideas and experiences that are larger than themselves.
Over the past 20 years, launching and ramping up startups has become part of my DNA. As part of the founding teams at Crisp and Speakr, I learned even more about branding, agencies and influencers. I also developed hands-on experience in launching and growing a SaaS company with cutting-edge technologies. I've advised a number of businesses with venture capital, social and influencer marketing, and entertainment. All this has led to my current role as Founder and CEO of Cluster. Let me tell you more about what we're doing.
What experiences along your career path help you most in your current role?
Life has a way of placing us on the right path even if we’re not expecting it at first. Technology has always been something that I’ve had the fortune to be exposed to, starting at a young age. Working in and around startups in e-commerce, mobile, video, social media, influencer and now social impact. It’s been very much of a natural progression. I’ve always wanted to effect positive change, and Cluster provides us with the platform that can achieve this in a way that fits our natural digital behavior.
Tell us about the team you’ve built.
We're a small but extremely passionate team. Passionate about truly creating change in our own and all communities across the world and passionate about each other and the work we do. With a startup, everyone is required to wear many, many hats and have the extra initiative to jump in for all the work we do.
We’ve quickly built a team that brings years of experience in their respective fields across product, UX/UI, marketing, sales and more. Our team brings experience ranging from leading entertainment brands such as Fox, CBS and Beats by Dre to top NGOs with Wetlands International and FUSE Corps to some of the top producers and directors across movies, TV, and music (Mulan, The Hangover, Heroes, JLo and many more). More importantly, we all have that next-level drive to achieve this massive goal of changing the world.
What key ideals drive you?
My parents always said, “Patience is not a virtue; it’s a pillar for success.” That statement is a work in progress, because I’m sometimes a little extra. But I do patiently pursue five key ideals:
- Empower those around you
- Inclusion over avoidance
- Seek the truth
- Speak the truth
- Compassion and kindness are the only weapons we need.
I’ve always been an observant person and I’m good at understanding what really motivates us and why. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity with Cluster to leverage that understanding to empower people to do more good.
Aside from financial growth, what’s your mission for your company?
As I mentioned earlier, my mission is to weaponize kindness, slow down judgement and create micro-moments for people to connect around ideas and experiences larger than themselves. If we do this, people will gain perspective on what matters from one another. From there, we can get the country back on track.
Regarding social movements, all projects that inspire or move people to action will be supported by Cluster. We’re all about enabling people to do more good in their communities, whether that’s a geographical area or a community of like-minded people supporting a shared cause.
As our platform grows, we hope to allow people to use their social channels to earn incomes like influencers do today, at a local level and in a programmatic purchasing manner.
What brings you the most joy?
The things that bring me the most joy are growth and learning, and I’ve put that to great use while developing Cluster. I have dreamed for over half a decade now of what it could look like for people to work together to better their communities and then the world through social impact. It’s been amazing to see brands, partners, talent and investors share my vision and want to be part of it.
What are you most proud of at work?
The work our team is doing everyday. It’s exciting to me to see our plans take shape and to see individuals begin to use Cluster to extend the impact of their volunteer efforts. It’s exciting to see brands buy into the way Cluster makes it so easy for them to get involved in social impact projects and meet their customers at a place of impact.
What are the top factors influencing your industry or company right now and how are you managing them?
The larger shift in focus on social impact from consumers and brands. There was already a shift of consumers holding brands, influencers, society and others more accountable for social actions. But then 2020 hit and all the issues that bubbled up from social justice, the economy, politics and more elevated the social impact space. Now, we’re seeing true action versus just talk of social impact. Talk about a good time for Cluster to launch!
Why did you decide to raise capital through crowdfunding?
I had begun raising money for Cluster before the pandemic, but as it took hold and our economy suffered, all of our investors stepped back from their plans with us. I remember sitting there at 3 a.m. as my pregnant wife slept beside me and thinking, “What are we going to do? What is the path forward to funding for this incredible platform?”
After a few months of nonstop virtual activity, we met some amazing people and a family office of investors who changed the game for us. And we were introduced to the idea of crowdfunding, which is a great fit for a business like ours that can reach and impact so many people.
Raising money, launching a business and having a baby is not something that usually happens all at once, but it allowed us to think quite dynamically and originally about how we wanted to go about affecting positive change and creating a community of inclusion through kindness.
What is the most important habit of a startup founder?
Being tenacious while showing patience for yourself and your employees, family and business.
What do you enjoy in your spare time?
Relaxing by spending time with my amazing wife and two beautiful daughters.
If you were on a stage in a spotlight before a packed audience, would you rather teach, sing, dance or accept an award? Tell us about that scene.
Listen … then teach. We are in one of the most exciting times in our country’s history, a period of change and potential growth. Millennials and Gen Zers have a massive appetite for purpose and now make up almost half of the U.S. population. There are an estimated 70M+ volunteers composed mostly of Millennials and Gen Zers where 70% of Millennials and Gen Zers believe they can create change. I say potential growth because if we can complete the journey that Cluster has set out to do, we can ensure that communities across the country get the chance to work together to do more good and even enable individuals to build secondary income streams.
Learn how you can invest in Cluster here.
This blog article is published by Fundify, Inc. The comments and opinions expressed within are those of the interviewee and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the website or Fundify, Inc.