1) What’s your backstory, Joe?
I started my career as an accountant. And honestly, a lot of people that know my personality say that makes sense! But after a few years in that industry, I just couldn’t imagine staying around long term. My father had the same accounting job (at different levels) his entire career, and while it was great for him, I felt like I wanted something different. So I went to Columbia Business School for a few years to improve my business skills with the plan to switch careers. The idea for Mattress Clarity came during that time, actually as I was looking for a new mattress! I was familiar with some sites that helped consumers make purchasing decisions online for other industries, so I thought, why not mattresses? I didn’t have a programming background or a video background…or really any background that helped me on day 1 of Mattress Clarity. So it was a lot of learning, especially early on, but a lot of fun as well!
2) What was your spark, where did it come from?
Really a spark came from the Columbia entrepreneurial community. I had thought about becoming an entrepreneur previously, but being around such inspiring and supportive people helped push me over the edge. When it came to mattresses specifically, I just knew that this industry was going to change dramatically to shift online. After going to a store, I knew the experience could be much better! When I launched the site, there were just a couple of companies that sold online. Now there are hundreds. So my thought was very quickly validated.
3) Many perceive the entrepreneurship as a solo journey. Who or what has helped you most along your journey?
I have absolutely found that to be true. There are so many unique challenges in entrepreneurship, and it can feel very lonely. I feel very fortunate that I have a great support system in my life – my friends, my family, some fellow entrepreneurs – that I can lean on for guidance when I need it. Or at least listen to me complain about the stressful days!
4) How do you deal with challenges?
When I’m faced with a challenge, I know that I do my best work and make my best decisions when my head is clear. Making decisions when I’m stressed or in the wrong headspace has lead to problems in the past! When I have a real challenge on my hands, I like to remove myself from the work environment and the situation – even for just 15 minutes – to let the adrenaline die down. Then I come back to the situation and think through logically and rationally. The big thing I’ve learned as well is that it’s important to have a long term mindset. If I’m making decisions to optimize for an outcome today, rather than the success of the company 2,3,5 years from now, I’ll often end up making a bad decision.