Between making over 125 investments at his angel investing firm the BoxGroup, co-founding TechStars New York, and most recently co-founding mobile shopping app Spring, although a self-proclaimed introvert, David has had his fair share of media coverage and I feared asking him questions he’s heard too many times before.
Only a few minutes into our conversation we discussed the real meaning of founding a tech startup and before I knew it, the man I perceived to be an invincible startup hero was just like me – Uncertain.
Whether he’s starting his company or helping other founders start theirs (BoxGroup invests in companies like Vine, Rebelmouse, and Handy); David proclaims that uncertainty is the common thread that connects all entrepreneurs.
“It’s all about fighting insecurity because you’re early. You haven’t hit some hockey stick. It’s not all organically working. You have to make huge decisions and bets on a daily basis without any real information about what you are supposed to do.
No one is telling you what to do. So every single piece of it is ripe with insecurity. Your job as a founder is to fight all of that.”
Although he was adamant not to prescribe a single method for founders to succeed, David emphasizes that the crucial thing every founder must do is make decisions.
It’s easy to see successful individuals from the outside and assume that they don’t suffer from uncertainty – That somehow, they received the tiny little handbook with all the answers.
The truth of the matter, and certainly my biggest learning this year, is that whether you’re starting your first company or your fifth uncertainty is always going to be there. The only difference is that you’ll be better at handling it.
David is a strong advocate for entrepreneurs to seek growth in domains that challenge them, and his best advice isn’t to push through it to overcome it, it’s to be great at it.
When describing his personal experiences with TechStars, although he doesn’t enjoy networking (Introverts unite!), he knew that if he was going to do it he had to be great at it.
Today the accelerator boasts over 160 mentors making it clear that he succeeded with his intent.
David maintains the same mentality for his work with Spring, a mobile shopping app designed to promote discovery. Instead of singularly delivering the products you can afford, the team is dedicated to highlighting fashion that excites you. Thus, their email is a refreshing compilation of the tee-shirt you can afford to wear on the weekends and the Oscar De La Renta dress you’re dying to wear at your upcoming holiday party.
Ara Katz, Octavian Costache, and Alan Tisch, David’s younger brother, make up the rest of the founding team and are dedicated to redefining shopping by removing the pressure to buy. In turn, the app’s designed to foster a personal and relaxing experience that delights you each time you log on. As a passionate user, I’m confident to say that they’re succeeding.
As the Spring team seeks international expansion, iPad applications (I’m counting the minutes!) and Android apps, David divides his time between the startup and his role as Managing Partner at the BoxGroup. He also recently signed on as the Head of Cornell University’s Startup Studio which he describes as a program dedicated to placing students in a position to succeed rather than telling them how to do it.