What’s the inspiration behind Fund the First?
Back in 2017, the daughter of one of my closest friends was born two days apart from my middle child. We were both excited to raise our kids together, but when my friend’s daughter was only a few months old, she was not reaching her milestones. Eventually, his daughter was diagnosed with Alexander disease.
During that time I saw my friend go through one of the worst situations any parent can imagine. The medical bills were adding up. I wanted to help, so I suggested doing a crowdfunding campaign to support the family. He immediately refused. His reason was simple: he did not want to have his daughter’s face showcased on a public platform, where someone else could reuse it to benefit from their hardship.
That was when I knew something better had to be developed. I put pen to paper—and that's how Fund the First was created.
What was it like transitioning from first responder to founder?
I spent the majority of my career working in the Narcotics Unit of the detective bureau. I led numerous long-term investigation cases that involved overseeing multiple areas. Learning to manage my time as a detective and work effectively across areas has helped me in my role as CEO.
Why did you decide to focus on first responders, military and medical professionals?
It is so unfortunate when someone needs a fundraising campaign after a tragedy. All too often we see this happen with our nation’s heroes in the US. When one of these tragedies strikes, a crowdfunding campaign springs up to support the family within hours. These campaigns go live with no vetting or verification. People donate blindly. The media entertains some of these as well—and before you know it, multiple campaigns are claiming to raise funds for the same person. This is a major issue in the industry, especially for our target audience. This is why we are here now!
What did it feel like to see the first completed campaign on your platform?
Our first campaign was for my friend’s daughter, who was the inspiration behind Fund the First. She tragically passed away at only two and a half years old. It was incredibly difficult to watch their family suffer. However, I witnessed how the campaign provided them with more than just donations—it gave them the support system they needed.
While we strive to become a household name, we have another important goal within the crowdfunding paradigm: to support one another. We want to give our nation’s heroes a way of lifting their spirits during their time of need.
How do you handle risk and competition?
Our numerous competitors in the crowdfunding industry provide lots of opportunities to learn and improve what we are doing. After months of testing the platform and finally going live, we took a chance by targeting a specific audience. That strategic risk was necessary to find out how successful we could be.
As a crowdfunder, why did you decide to raise via Republic?
We had an opportunity to raise funds from venture capitalists and private investors, but we decided to take a different approach to reach the audience that we are catering to. We wanted to provide them with an opportunity to be a part of our growing family while having a vested interest.
What’s your team culture like?
Our team lives by a simple statement: One Family, One Mission. We are all in this together to provide our family of first responders, military and medical professionals with our mission through verified crowdfunding.
What is your superpower?
I would have to say that my superpower is the ability to never give up. Failure is something I look at like a learning experience that helps you discover your exact “why” in life. Without failing and continuing to work through my mistakes, I would not be the person that I am today.
Failure is something I look at like a learning experience to discover your exact “why” in life.
What’s your kryptonite?
Sleep is my kryptonite. If I did not have to sleep, I would be able to accomplish so much more!
Do you have any other hobbies or things you like to do in your spare time?
In addition to being an NYPD detective and the CEO of this company, I am a husband and father of three, a member of numerous non-profit organizations, an advisor to multiple companies, and a business consultant to new startup organizations in the first responder, military and medical professional fields. I am also a former Division I baseball player, a podcast host, artist, musician, baseball coach, technology director of a local Little League, and an avid scenic riding Peloton user. You could say I'm a little busy!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
“You must show no mercy nor have any belief whatsoever in how others judge you, for your greatness will silence them all.” This piece of advice is permanently tattooed on my arm as a reminder to always overcome any obstacle that comes my way.