Everything that happens has a specific purpose and is for the ultimate good. If we learn to accept, love, and embrace life’s ups and downs we’ll happily ride the wave to our destination.
Isaac is Co-Founder at Exeq, an early stage startup based in New York City bringing the everyday economy into the digital age: changing where, how, and what consumers spend, while empowering merchants with tools to connect with customers for a more efficient economy. Exeq recently launched their app that helps users track their spending, budget, and share their favorite spots with friends, combining social & financial data to make an app millennials love.
Isaac is responsible for investor relations, school partnerships, public relations, and business development at Exeq. He is passionate about people, and enjoys collaborating with others to build cool products that bring a great value to the world. Prior to leaving school, Isaac studied Finance and Marketing at the New York University’s Stern School of Business. Before entering the business world, Isaac actively worked in philanthropy and founded a non-profit fund called The World Youth Initiative under the James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation. With dozens of volunteers, Isaac raised tens of thousands of dollars for communities and charities around the world, with projects from sending medical supplies in an ambulance to Haiti to collecting books for local libraries. Isaac is passionate about education, health and fitness, and enjoys reading, writing, and traveling on his free time. Isaac grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and spends his free time bonding with family and friends.
Where did the idea for Exeq come from?
As young people aspiring both for general financial health and financial freedom, my partners and I realized that most of us are neglected when it comes to our money. On the one hand, banking apps are clunky and boring and do not help us manage our money. On another hand, the personal finance apps out there don’t practically help us budget for our lifestyles. They are either too confusing and focus on numbers, graphs and lines or just set aside money every week or month for us to misspend later down the road. Put simply, the next generation expects apps to be easy, fun, & social: everything modern finance apps are not. That is when we set out to build the first app that helps people live their lifestyles within their budget through personalization and empowering better spending.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day is divided into three parts: organizational work, business development work, and creative brainstorming work. The organizational work generally takes place at the start and at the end of my day. As soon as I wake up, I write down my top 3 personal goals for the day and my top 3 business goals for the day. I then map out a schedule of execution for the entire day taking into account my meetings, calls, emails, personal time, and commute time. This allows me to feel clear-headed and organized to take on everything with focus one task at a time. At the end of the day, I tally what I accomplished, what I may have missed, and my macro goals for the next day. Then repeat.
Business development work is fairly self-explanatory. This involves engaging with any people or third parties responsible in the growth and progression of our company. This could be investor meetings for our fundraising or merchant meetings for retail partners we’re collaborating with. When I’m in marketing mode, business development could mean spending hours sourcing, contacting and meeting with journalists to share our story and vision with them. No matter what the day, I try to make sure I have facetime with someone that could help us push our mission.
Creative brainstorming work is a time to put on my earbuds, close my eyes, and think about out-of-the-box ideas I could implement to help me better reach my business and personal goals. This typically happens at night.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Validating the idea, practically testing the concept in action, and then if proven effective, growth hacking to scale.
Validating the Idea:
As an example, last year I had a theory that people responded way better to new ideas – whether people, products, or services – when engaged with in a human face-to-face way. To test my hypothesis, I had the idea to spend three days in Washington Square Park sincerely talking with people about Exeq and prompting them join our waitlist. After my three days on the streets, I tallied up the waitlist sign ups and went back to the office to test the alternative strategy: getting signups organically over the internet. I then spent the next three days doing online marketing and making calls, texts, and emails to build the waitlist. After my efforts, I tallied up the signups obtained digitally and found that I had received more signups from my face-to-face encounters, thus validating my hypothesis.
Practically Testing the Concept in Action:
Now I had to test the scalability of the concept, seeing if I could replicate my in-person efforts to others that could help me grow the waitlist more sustainably. After all, I’m only one person and wouldn’t have the time, energy physical ability to scale groundswell marketing every day. That is when I recruited a few high school and college student volunteers who were interested in seeing the inner works of a startup and better their communication skills. I spent a day training them on my best practices when talking to people and then let them hit the park. During the first week, they struggled a bit and each received about 5 to 10 signups a day. During the second week, they each brought back 20 to 30 signups a day. By the end of a month, they were each bringing in 60 to 70 signups a day. And it kept growing from there!
Growth Hacking to Scale:
After proving this face-to-face brand ambassador concept effective in action, I scaled our brand ambassador ground team through creating a friend referral program. By the end of the summer we had 85+ student volunteers across 15 schools who collected over 25,000 signups face-to-face over the entire summer.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’ve been loving the local merchants in NYC encouraging healthier lifestyles. I’m a big advocate of healthy eating, physical activity, and spirituality so I’ve been greatly enjoying all the juice shops opening up and the health food stores, local boutique gyms, and yoga/meditation facilities. I’m hoping that Exeq will help people find spots like these within their location and budget so we could all lead healthier lives.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My morning routine. A morning routine is very important to getting your day off to a strong start and generally results in a most productive and efficient day. I recommend waking up early, eating a nutritious breakfast, and engaging in any form of self-care like exercise, prayer or meditation.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust more. Trust yourself, trust in GD, and trust in the process. Everything is going to be great. You have a lot to learn and you will, all in due time. All the answers are inside you.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Everything that happens has a specific purpose and is for the ultimate good. We may not see how now, and we may never with certain things, but nonetheless everything is meant to happen. If we learn to accept, love, and embrace life’s ups and downs we’ll happily ride the wave to our destination.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Self reflect. It’s important to check in with yourself. I constantly ask, am I happy with where I am? Who I am? Are there things that I could be doing better? For myself or for others? Am I being the best that I could be? I believe someone that is self-aware enough to be vulnerable and open about his/her strengths, weaknesses, goals and fears could develop a better relationship to life and achieve his/her greatness faster. Building this relationship with yourself leads to self-reliance, self-confidence, and self-love, which are key ingredients to impacting the world and helping others.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Reverse engineering our goals. Throughout Exeq’s growth we at the company to hit certain benchmarks like funding, user growth, and other challenging goals to which stakeholders held us accountable. From time to time when the goals were sizable, like our goal of a 40,000 person national waitlist mentioned earlier, we had to reverse engineer the goal and break our action steps down to the day. Then, all you have to do is focus on winning that day. When you win the day, you win the week, and then the month and so on.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
At the beginning I struggled to trust others enough to delegate the necessary work and this resulted in slowed growth for a bit. Once I learned to let go, trust and empower those around me, and move onward to more priority tasks, our efforts scaled faster.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’d love someone to help build a better education system. I’d quickly support a school that teaches things like how to communicate effectively, form healthy relationships, develop empathy and compassion, and stuff of those sorts. Let’s teach our youth how to be the best they could be at life!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought The Clean Program’s Daily Detox shake powder. It’s delicious, nutritious, and makes an amazing breakfast when mixed with blueberries, almond butter, and half an avocado.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I love Google Calendar. I put everything on there. I mean everything. From my personal and professional appointments to my out of office activities and down time.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Into the Magic Shop” by James Doty. This book is powerful because it tells a captivating story while revealing deep applicable methods we could use to achieve our dreams. James, now a successful neurosurgeon, tells the heartwarming story of his journey growing from a young boy struggling with life to one who learned the mysteries of the human mind, the brain, and secret techniques we could realize to fulfill our goals.
What is your favorite quote?
“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” By Ralph Waldo Emerson in “Self-Reliance.” One of the biggest challenges we have in our modern age is balancing quieting the noise from the outside world with its opinions, thoughts and beliefs and remaining independent. We must learn to live harmoniously with those around us while truly tapping into ourselves and trusting our own hearts.
• Organization is key. It allows you to operate with a clear mind and a strong focus on the task in front of you.
• Have a healthy morning routine, keep a structured schedule, and put time aside for yourself.
• When you have an idea start with ensuring that the idea is worth testing. If so, move onto spending some resources on experimenting its effectiveness in action. When successful, scale.
• Reverse engineer your goals. Make sure you break your target down into smaller chunks that you could win over day by day.
• Trust others and delegate accordingly. You cannot scale your business if you don’t scale yourself. Let others with a shared vision contribute their share.
Bonus: Self-reflect and learn to trust yourself. Take time to look inside, assess yourself, and constantly improve on things. Over time, you will develop self-awareness, and eventually this will grow into self-confidence, self-love, and self-reliance, all required to change other people’s lives.