I've had the opportunity to work on a number of really interesting projects. Here are some of the ones that I'm most proud of.
I spent last summer working as a product manager at chipshot.com. Not only did I enjoy my work immensely, but I also got to know a bunch of people that I would love to work with in the future.
My key accomplishments were coordinating a team that overhauled the order management system, leading the design and implementation of a barcode order tracking system, working with the management team to develop a mission statement and integrate it into the company's decision making process, and creating recommendations for chipshot.com's brand positioning and celebrity endorsement strategies. I also turned a lot of friends and acquaintances into chipshot.com customers. :)
BidSmart, which I co-developed in 1998, is a comparison shopping agent that searches online auction
websites for good deals. I helped convince my partner Thai to turn it into Booksmart, a comparison shopping
agent for college textbooks.
Universal Digital Media, LLC
Starting UDM, the first legal mp3 website, was an incredible experience. I met David Weekly during my trip to Stanford as a prospective freshman (he lived in Burbank, where I'm now an RA - weird, huh?) and he started spouting off about mp3s. I hadn't heard of the technology before, but it seem insanely cool and I really felt like there was something big there. When I got back to NY, I talked to Dave some more and found out that his first mp3 site (which had some unauthorized files) was shut down by Stanford and Geffen Records. I asked if there was any way he could get permission to distribute the music and then we both decided to start a company. Dave and I were way over our heads, but we bravely (AKA foolishly ) believed that we could get the big records labels to sign over content from their major artists to a couple of unknown kids experimenting with a new technology that was very closely tied to piracy. You can imagine how successful we were. :) It took a while before we figured out how the music industry worked and realized that big record labels move very, very slowly. Although a number of bands were interested in working with us, the record labels wouldn't hear of it. It took us
a while to realize that the true potential of the new medium was to help the unsigned artists and independent labels that had been overlooked by the mainstream music industry. Unfortunately, by this time Dave and I realized how much work was involved and how difficult it would take to build a company that had thousands and thousands of independent musicians as customers. Plus, our stress levels got higher as school started and we began to run into some problems as a team. So we made the very difficult decision to dissolve UDM. However, the mp3 movement still lives on and both of us have kept our fingers in the world of Silicon Valley. Dave is still pushing the frontiers of digital audio and is now publishing a book about mp3s. I am really proud of him!
Laser Fusion Research
During the summer after my Junior year of high school, I was given the opportunity to work
with some really smart scientists at the University of Rochester's Laboratory for Laser Energetics. It was as part of a summer program for high school students. While I doubt I have much potential as a physicist, I somehow got lucky and came up with a fairly significant design proposal for one of the major components in the OMEGA laser system. I entered my paper into the Westinghouse Science Talent Search and was shocked
to become one of 40 finalists in the prestigious competition. The scientists at LLE modified my design, built/tested a prototype, and then spent $2 million to integrate it into the OMEGA system. A revised version of my paper was published in the Optical Society of America's Optics Letters. Thanks go to all the researchers at LLE, especially my advisor Stephen Craxton.
My love of entrepreneurship has its roots in an interesting story. As
a freshman in high school, I was an insane videogame fan. I can't tell
you how many children I babysat and how many I lawns I mowed in order
to feed my addiction for the latest and greatest videogames and
videogame systems. So I did what any enterprising teenager would have
done. I tried to figure out how I could con videogame companies into
sending me their games for free. :) So I started what I called an
"online magazine" - this was 1993 - and called videogame companies
asking for review copies of their latest games. I don't know how many
people realized I was a kid, but my letters, phone calls, and articles
were all pretty unprofessional. However, something amazing happened.
People actually liked my publication! I quickly attracted an audience
and within a couple of months was sending HTG to more than 15,000
people. I fooled around with different forms of advertising and even
arranged to make money on videogame sales through a 800# mail order
company (this was before online commerce and affiliate programs).
Pretty soon I was signing deals with AOL and CompuServe. However, my
grades were slipping and my parents made me give up the publication.
While I don't consider HTG to be a major success, it was the start of
my career as an entrepreneur. If you're interested, you can
download the first issue here. It is an
executable file that runs in MS-DOS. Later versions of the publication
were hosted on AOL and Compuserve and went into the online