[quote style=”boxed”]Work out hard every day. There are no drugs in the world like your own adrenaline or endorphins. Sweating makes you happier, healthier, and more energetic. You can’t find anything else like it.[/quote]
Jared Rosenthal is an entrepreneur who created the now famous “Who’s Your Daddy” DNA testing truck in NYC. He owns and operates Health Street, a drug testing and paternity testing company that serves people all over the United States. He was previously successful in corporate America, rising up to the level of CEO of a $50 million dollar healthcare company, and managing over 400 staff, but he never let a day go by without dreaming of running his own show. Health Street, founded in 2010, is the realization of that dream.
Mr. Rosenthal was “discovered” by the NY Post in August 2012 with a feature full page story titled “Mr. Genealogy”, which focused on the personal (and often dramatic) side of the mobile paternity business. New Yorkers of all kinds stop and stare whenever the “Who’s Your Daddy” Truck drives by. There are hundreds of pictures of the Health Street RV all over the internet. Cameras flash whenever it parks for a job, and New Yorkers laugh, smile, and share the photos with their friends via social media. Jared appeared on CNN, FOX News, Good Day NY, ABC TV, WPIX 11, CBS, and dozens of radio stations discussing the business, and he was featured in BusinessWeek in 2012 with a discussion about his company and entrepreneurship.
What are you working on right now?
There’s been a lot of press about Health Street lately, and a lot of interest in the fascinating stories of the people affected by its mobile DNA truck. I have been sorting through a lot of offers from television studios to produce an documentary style TV show about the business and it’s diverse array of clients and their dramatic, real-life situations.
Where did the idea for Health Street come from?
I wanted to be in a business that helps people, and that got me out in the streets, among the community I was serving. I wanted to wear jeans every day. And I didn’t have enough money to open a clinic in NYC anyway. So I figured, why not put an office on wheels, brand it to help us advertise, and travel the city offering my testing services wherever there was a need. I bought a used RV and hit the road.
What does your typical day look like?
Every day is different, since we respond to emergencies. I could be woken up at 2 AM for a train accident, and I go do a breathalyzer and drug test on the conductor. I might do a home visit for a DNA test in the morning, or send one of my guys. Then to the office to work on our company database, speak to our business clients, develop an SEO strategy, and continually try and improve our website…I work on everything from HR to accounting to MIS to Finance to Marketing to Sales. And…I drive the truck.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bounce them off people that I trust to give me clarity. Especially people that give me comments that seem like they don’t get what I’m talking about. Strangely, their comments often help me steer in the right direction, even if it’s a direction they didn’t seem to be suggesting.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The drop in crime in NYC. It’s almost incomprehensible how much things have changed since I moved here in 1993. How much else can be accomplished, especially for low income communities, if crime continues to plummet?
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I used to work the overnight shift at an ice cream wrapper factory. My favorite part was driving home at 7 AM and watching all the guys in suits head to work, while I was headed to get a morning beer and go to sleep. But I learned that it was hard to keep a normal social life when you have to be at work every night at 11PM.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have learned earlier what I now know to be fundamentally true: if you have no customers, you have no business. Sounds obvious. Even simplistic. But just go and see how many entrepreneurs fail to understand that.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Work out hard every day. There are no drugs in the world like your own adrenaline or endorphins. Sweating makes you happier, healthier, and more energetic. You can’t find anything else like it.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I tried to start a business in an area that I knew nothing about. I blew my life savings. It was fun. But overcoming the failure was hard. I had to go back to a real job for awhile. The only way to overcome it was to start another business. But smarter than before. I invested less. I did everything myself. I ensured revenue was coming in before I spent another dime of my own money.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Fruit Stickers. Fruit is the only kid’s food in the supermarket without packaging that markets to and attracts kids. I think someone should develop awesome, kid-friendly stickers to put on fruit, so kids would ask their parents to buy it for them.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I would create an economic system in which business success was synonymous with environmental success, rather than degradation and destruction. I am afraid we need a whole new economic model to get there. I love capitalism, but the fallout is harsh. Americans can still love America and say that – because it’s the truth.
Tell us a secret.
I hate meetings. Unless I’m running them.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
1) Google Analytics goes without say. You gotta be kidding if you’re not analyzing your clients and optimizing your web presence based on data.
2) Crucial.com. I love doubling the speed of my office computers myself, for half the price I would pay at the Apple Store, using ten bucks worth of screwdrivers and free YouTube how-to videos.
3) Anything Mac. I had an Apple 2 Plus when I was twelve years old, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I set up my office as an all Mac environment with a Mac Server, iMacs, MacBookPros, iPhones, and a Mac Mini collocated website. By doing this, I can actually figure out everything, and do it all myself, without too much effort. If we were running on PCs, we’d save a few hundred per machine, but pay tens of thousands to IT guys to fix stuff. No way.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Because anything is possible if you dream it and work like hell.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Can’t answer that, I’m kinda new to Twitter…
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
Everywhere I go with the “Who’s Your Daddy” Truck, it makes people laugh, smile, take pictures, tell jokes. Paternity testing just strikes a chord with folks. It never gets old. Makes me laugh every time.
Who is your hero?
My hero is my grandfather. He started a business the old fashioned way. A born mechanical wizard, he saved up his money, and opened up shop. An arcade on the Boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ. No investors, no exit strategy, no written business plan. Just make kids happy and fix the machines when they break. And, eat home-cooked lunch in the back with my grandma and take a nap.
Why are you opposed to outside investors?
A lot of entrepreneurs seek out VC and Angel Investors to invest in their visions and their dreams, and they often make a lot of money because of that.
Being a true entrepreneur, to me, means implementing my own ideas and vision without trying to sell it to someone with deep pockets. The only people that I want to sell to are my clients. If I had an investor, then I’d have a boss. Been there, done that. This ride is solo, including all the crazy highs and wicked lows.
Do you (or did you ever) have a mentor?
I had no shortage of teachers and coaches and friends in my life that told me what I couldn’t do, what I wasn’t capable of, what I should find someone else to help me with….and when I heard this negativity, I would be inspired to improve myself just to prove them wrong. A funny thing happens when you accomplish what someone says you’ll never achieve: you lose respect for them. When I finally found a teacher who told me what I can do rather than what I can’t, and that my potential was limitless, and that I could be my own source of inspiration, I stuck with that guy forever.