Scott Poniewaz – Co-founder of Dibsie.com

[quote style=”boxed”]I usually am up at 6 am and get to the office by 7.  I also try to run a couple times a week.  Through the day, I am busy managing what goes on the site, clearing my inbox, speaking with existing and potential merchants to help them run successful campaigns, and working to strategize for the future of Dibsie with my co-founders Garren Givens and Dylan Fareed.  I’ll usually try to head home by about 9, do some reading, eat dinner and relax.[/quote]

Scott Poniewaz is a co-founder at Dibsie.com, an evolving catalog that recommends home and fashion products based on a user’s tastes, while providing businesses a quick and easy self-uploading platform for sale campaigns.

Prior to starting Dibsie, Scott was the Director of India operations, Northeast Sales, and developed programs across Southeast Asia, Africa, and was able to travel to 6 of 7 continents while at a teen service and adventure travel company.  Before all of his globetrotting, he grew up in the Madison, WI suburb of Middleton, then earned photojournalism and studio art degrees from the University of Montana, while managing to ski in excess of 75 days per winter and honing his outdoor skills.  After living out of suitcases and developing business in Asia, his growing interest in the budding NYC tech scene, startups, design, and fashion inspired him to lay his roots in New York and develop Dibsie.com.  He also is a big foodie that not only enjoys New York’s never-ending list of restaurants, but also trying to recreate his favorite dishes in the kitchen.

What are you working on right now?

Currently I manage Dibsie’s business development and much of the day-to-day operations.  Since launching at the New York Tech Meetup in August, we’ve been rapidly growing on both the business and user acquisition fronts, optimizing our technology and recommendations, and are working hard to continue to scale.

Where did the idea for Dibsie come from?

In 2010, we launched CampusDibs, a Groupon for colleges.  We realized we could improve upon the daily deals model and evolved.  People wanted more personalized offers recommended to them and the sales cycle was a lengthy, inefficient one.  Our entrepreneurial backgrounds paired with our passion for fashion, design, and art allowed us to pivot, innovate and problem-solve around these areas and Dibsie.com was born.

What does your typical day look like?

I usually am up at 6 am and get to the office by 7.  I also try to run a couple of times a week.  Through the day, I am busy managing what goes on the site, clearing my inbox, speaking with existing and potential merchants to help them run successful campaigns, and working to strategize for the future of Dibsie with my co-founders Garren Givens and Dylan Fareed.  I’ll usually try to head home by about 9, do some reading, eat dinner and relax.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Creativity and hard work are big, but the team trumps all.  Without a great team, even the best ideas will crumble.  Garren, Dylan, and I are pretty lucky.

3 trends that excite you?

Social media, discovery and gamification, but I don’t think they are new.  They have been revived into a landscape with new platforms to develop upon and integrate with.  I think they all are contributing to this idea of a personalization 2.0 that many originally aimed for in the late 90’s. I have a lot of respect for what companies like Foursquare are doing to combine these areas and believe Dibsie will be successful at incorporating these trends.

What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I’ve always managed to find a way to do things that I love. When I was 14, my first job was ski instructing, then I cooked for a whitewater rafting company in Jackson Hole, and my post-college job allowed me to jet set around the world working and living in about 25 countries including India, Thailand, Burkina Faso, and Burma. The most unusual was my job at a wedding and portrait studio in Missoula, Montana while completing my photojournalism degree.  I had to manage the seasonal Santa Claus and Easter Bunny portrait business at the local mall.  Aside from learning that 12 hours of holiday music gets old very fast, I learned humility when the person that was supposed to be the Easter Bunny didn’t show up and I had to fill in.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I think each step has led me to where I am today.  My path was not the traditional business school to MBA to entrepreneur track, and I think all of the experiences from working in different countries and living in different places has contributed to where I am and my vast skill set.

What is the one thing you did/do as an entrepreneur that you would do over and over again and recommend everybody else do?

I wish I hadn’t dropped out of my college entrepreneurship class. I decided I should ski a couple more days per week when I heard we had to write a 40-page business plan.  I probably would have gotten more involved in entrepreneurship during college, which is much easier than leaving a salary to start a company.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I would say personalized news from around the web, but then a friend passed along news360.com this morning. Back to the drawing board…

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

Call me Ted,” Ted Turner’s autobiography. He is an amazing businessman that has lived an amazing life pursuing his passions.  Also the one person I would love to have a sit-down with.  “Classic Drucker” is also one of my favorites as a management resource.

If you weren’t working on Dibsie, what would you be doing?

Hopefully not working a 9-5 job.

Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?

Obvious tech/startup resources aside, I’d have to go with The Dalai Lama (@dalailama) for inspiration, Harvard Business Review (@HarvardBiz) for continuing education, and the always interesting Alexis O’Hanian of Hipmunk, Breadpig, and founder at Reddit (@kn0thing).

When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it.

I feel like I’m always laughing and always have a smile on my face.  I am pretty easy to get a laugh out of.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Ted Turner or Jay-Z.  Both are interesting entrepreneurs with great stories to tell.

What do you do to challenge yourself outside of Dibsie?

I’m always up for trying something once and usually that involves pushing my limits, I have run the DC National Marathon the past two years, have done a half Ironman, and would love to do a full one when I am not starting a company and have the time to train.  I’ve been trying to build my programming chops by helping some friends with websites on the side, and am attempting to learn Ruby on Rails.

Connect

Aside from Dibsie.com, my twitter is @scottpony and my linked in is: http://www.linkedin.com/in/scottponiewaz.  If you’re in NYC, I’d love to connect.  You can follow my blog at :scottponiewaz.com.