Why this site?
When I chose to leave day-to-day operations of RevZilla in 2017, I took an inventory and developed a personal strategy to stay happy, continue growing and stay sharp.
I know I find great joy and satisfaction in sharing, creating, inspiring, coaching, learning and teaching. Whether leading a company, audience, customer base or family, the skills are similar. My goal is to continue to wield those skills via more diverse mediums. Hence the creation of this blog, a medium where I can share more of what I have learned more broadly. I hope others find value in it.
I also believe that my life is a work in progress. I’m a relentless self-improver. The only constant is the drive to grow and change. There is no complete. There is no perfect. There is never a finish line. There is always the next thing, the next climb, the next struggle. Ray Dalio said, “The goal is to struggle well, while doing meaningful work and forming meaningful relationships”. I couldn’t agree more.
One of my more polarizing tendencies is that I hate to settle. I also have a problem with people who are willing to settle. I want to realize my full potential in my own pursuits and I like to surround myself with people who also are striving to reach their full potential. Depending on personality, people find that invigorating or it scares the shit out of them. I also frequently challenge the rules or the status quo. Rules make sense until they don’t anymore. I have a hard time settling for the prolonged misalignment of outdated rules and those who would prefer the ease of leaving things the way they are.
My mom once asked me,”If you wrote an autobiography, what would it be called?”, and I arrived at “Never Settle”. I believe it captures the spirit of the journey and the pursuit of incremental improvement and growth on all fronts in perpetuity. Hence the tag-line of this outlet.
If you want to dive a level deeper, I had the honor cataloging my thoughts while baring my soul via a 2016 Drexel University commencement address.
My Drexel Commencement Address
What I do now
I am still an entrepreneur and leader at heart.
Every day I am on the lookout for the potential convergence of market factors where impending transformation and personal domain knowledge can intersect. When I see the possibility for a mixture of personal purpose and value creation at an industry juncture, that will be the moment to found my next company. In the meantime, the search continues and there is a lot of frog-kissing going on. It takes time to write a great second album. It can’t be rushed, faked or copied.
“It takes time to write a great second album. It can’t be rushed, faked or copied.”
Right now, staying sharp and open to being lucky means staying connected, continuing to grow and staying relevant. I’m currently advising, coaching, consulting, sitting on a few boards and selectively investing in companies where I can influence the outcome or I have inherent industry knowledge. My most notable current investments are goPuff (where I also advise and sit on the board) and Amino Payments. I hope I continue to meet amazing new people and see even more opportunities as I move ahead.
More available time has also allowed me to move the social action needle through formal board work with Drexel University and the Tony Hawk Foundation. I also do a fair amount of mentoring and pro-bono coaching. I had amazing help along the way. Not paying it forward is not an option.
It goes without saying that the additional freedom to spend time with my wife, five children and countless hobbies, is very special.
What I used to do
I was always a tech guy with a side hustle.
I founded RevZilla.com in 2007, after deciding that I wanted to buy a motorcycle and realizing there were no great online options for apparel or a helmet. If you must know, my parents were not supportive of the motorcycle and I was ultimately pushed over the edge to riding after being inspired by the founder of Chrome Hearts during an eCom pitch meeting in 2005.
In nine years, my co-founders and I scaled RevZilla to be the largest and most respected eCommerce brand in the worldwide motorcycle aftermarket. We went from zero revenue and zero employees to over $150M and ~250 people and earned the expected scars. We never raised money and were ultimately acquired as part of an industry roll up including retailer Cycle Gear in 2016. It was a great outcome on a number of fronts which also led to the creation of a new parent company called Comoto Holdings. I chose to leave day-to-day operations in 2017, but I am still a board director and partial owner of the collective organization.
A large part of RevZilla’s success was our original content via our Youtube channel, where we reinvented the product review and demonstration video beginning in the summer of ‘09. When we began, we had no budget to hire a host, so I did the honors and thankfully it worked. Being the chief exec and external face of the brand was a very unique position that I am honored to have occupied and the videos and media still live on today. I still get pulled in front of the camera here and there as well.
Previous to RevZilla and right after the dotcom bubble burst, I had a senior sales and biz dev role at an eCommerce platform agency that designed and built experiences for large and small brands. During the wild west of 2004-2007, I won large platform and development contracts with national brands including: Vineyard Vines, Smashbox Cosmetics, Spencer Gifts, L’Occitane, Oneida, Chrome Hearts and others. My book of clients and the countless RFPs we didn’t win were my crash course for business models on the consumer internet.
Before that I wrote code. I asked my parents for VB 3.0 for my 14th birthday and taught myself to build annoying apps for Prodigy in the early days of the twenty-cents-a-minute dial-up internet. I continued to learn and develop software throughout my teens until the end of college, when I knew the developer route was not my calling.
In my early years, I hawked candy bars on my front lawn and marked up gum out of my middle school locker. I sold burned CDs full of MP3s (legally, I swear) in high school and eventually had a short-lived late-night breakfast sandwich scheme out of my freshman Drexel dorm. The head of student housing loved that one and my parents got used to shaking their heads. I got pretty good at asking forgiveness. I always saw opportunity all around me, even when I was a kid. I was always driven.
Lastly, I have always been a brand and retail geek. There is just something inherently fascinating about the emotions and decision-making of consumers interacting with brands. It’s probably because I’m a sucker for a great story.