What’s the meaning behind the name “Thuzio”?
Thuzio comes from the word enthusiast. We preferred enthusiast to fan. We felt this description of our audience better reflects our ambition to build an enjoyable, memorable and sophisticated sports entertainment product.
How did Thuzio get started—what was your inspiration?
The company and brand Thuzio first launched 8 years ago by myself and my two co-founders, Tiki Barber and Mark Gerson. Tiki and Mark had hatched the idea for an online marketplace for booking professional athletes and gave me the opportunity to run the business.
Julius. Along the way, we started hosting events with our network of athletes and business professionals.We built the marketplace, but ultimately, given the explosion of influencer marketing, we pivoted from just sports to all influencer genres. We also went from a marketplace model to a SaaS model, rebranding in 2015 as
The feedback on the events was so incredibly positive, we decided our events could be a standalone business. We therefore separated the events arm from Julius in 2017, retaining the original brand of Thuzio.
What were you doing before you launched Thuzio?
I’ve always worked for NY technology startups. I was first a member of the founding executive team at Seamless/GrubHub and then as part of the founding team at a daily-deal publishing startup called Group Commerce (merged with Nimble Commerce). Then, I met Mark and Tiki and we started Julius/Thuzio.
I’ve always been a business development oriented leader. I love solving problems for markets as well as customers, sales, product marketing, and team building. My passion for business development started early. I sold greeting cards door-to-door in grade school, and then Cutco Cutlery throughout college!
This isn’t the first time you’ve started a company. What’s the #1 skill you think entrepreneurs need to succeed?
Grit. It’s cliche, but it’s true. You just have to refuse to lose.
Grit shows up every day. It inspires your team and helps you recruit the best talent, which is ultimately how you win.
What’s been the biggest challenge when founding Thuzio?
Learning how to be a CEO. It’s a unique position that bears tremendous responsibility. You have to orient yourself around the idea that you come to work to serve your team. If you’re doing your job, you’re putting the right people in place; helping them structure their role, setting up clear goals, giving them appropriate resources, and coming to work everyday asking them, “how can I help you get there?”.
What do you look for in a co-founder? What’s your team culture like?
I’ve had the unique opportunity of co-founding our business with two individuals who had already experienced significant success in their professional life. In Mark and Tiki, I found co-founders I admired and could learn from. I’m very lucky.
Our team culture is high fire, high IQ, no drama.
You are also a Techstars mentor—what’s that like?
I participated this past summer in Techstars as a mentor and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m kind of a business and ideas junky, so spending time with new entrepreneurs and getting to hear their ideas and challenges was extremely fun and rewarding. I would love to be able to dedicate more time to Techstars in the future.
Any advice to new first-time founders?
What is your superpower?
I'm a challenge-seeker. I’m very proud of starting two businesses over the past eight years, while simultaneously building a family with my wife, Lauren. We now have three kids: Sage, Crew, and Cole. It’s been crazy at times, but amazing. I have a huge appetite for challenges worth taking.
What’s your kryptonite?
I guess a Giants football game, because I’m not much of a father or business leader when they’re playing.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
I need coffee and 30 minutes on email every morning when I first wake up or I can’t function.
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do? What do you geek out about?
I’m a big sports fan, so anything Giants, Yankees, Syracuse Orangemen (I’m from upstate NY). I also love to read. Lately, as my kids get older, I really enjoy learning new things with them.
What’s coming up soon that super excites you?
I’m really excited about Thuzio and where we’re going; particularly the launch of our video and audio content platform. You’ll be seeing our content everywhere soon!