Tell us a little bit about your early life?
I grew up in East Flatbush, Brooklyn & was a rebellious teen. When someone said go left, I would go right, LOL. I'm the oldest of 4, ran away a lot, & grew up in group homes. I'm 29 yrs old, have lived in all 5 boroughs of the city, & now settled in Staten Island.
Tell us about Date While You Wait? How did it come about?
Date While You Wait is a company I created in June 2015 to give people unique ways to create & connect. I was speaking with a friend & she was bothered by a train ride experience. I was also frustrated with the lack of connection & real life engagement today so I thought I would create an experience where people could connect on a subway platform while waiting for the train, through playing a board game with me, at no charge. That week I literally went to Union Square station (one of the busiest in the city), set up a table, 2 chairs, a paper sign, & Connect 4. The first day I met 18 people & I could feel the magic. The next day my friend posted the photos on Facebook & my phone blew up. Shortly after I was contacted by CNN, Huffington Post, & the New York Times; all from this idea. I didn't start for any buzz but for fun & its turned into something bigger. I didn't have a set schedule when I started but I usually pick a station & sit for 2-3 hours. I switch up the games (Connect 4, Guess Who, etc), & go out on the weekends/evenings.
What inspired you to empower people in this way?
We don't connect enough in real life & I LOVE people. Everyone matters & has a story to share. There is no better way than through connection.
Running a business is not easy. Is this your full-time focus?
I didn't start Date While You Wait with a big business plan to start a company, but it is now my full-time focus. I recently resigned from my job in sales for a publishing company to focus fully on it.
New York is a very busy city. What are the reactions when people see you and/or sit with you?
In the beginning people thought it was a dating service, LOL. Overall, people are fascinated & love the experience. I'm not worried about what negative people may think because I just want to connect. The board games create nostalgia for some, & introduces kids to something other than their phone screens.
How did you feel the first time you shared Date While You Wait?
I was very proud & didn't expect the overwhelming reaction. I even got a few marriage proposals, LOL, & requests to bring it to other cities. I knew I wanted to expand, which was hard at first with my schedule, but I've been able to scale over time.
Creating your own lane can be hard. How has Date While You Wait shaped you?
Connection inspires me. Entrepreneurship is very sexy right now but I see myself as a regular guy just connecting with people. I'm proud that this one idea has turned into this. When we don't connect with others, we miss out & I don't want that. This journey has created so many opportunities & I now know I can accomplish anything I'm 100% committed to.
What's next for you & Date While You Wait?
I started a bowtie brand called BeGreat bowties to give people the ability to be unique in style. They are made out of wood with uplifting & inspiring words on them at your request. I was inspired by the original maker, Tyrelle Shaw, who committed suicide in June 2015. I've started speaking at colleges & on panels about connection so I plan on doing more of that. With my business partner, we've created Date While You Wait connection events, meetups, forums, & influencer takeovers (influencers can play boardgames with their followers). It's really turned into a movement.
What would you say to someone that wants to launch an idea but afraid to?
Don't be afraid. Do it, have fun, & be fearless with it. I've even had people try & mimic the idea but I'm not worried about other people. Focus on your journey.
What does Give the Goose mean to you?
Pursuing my passion is my life & means everything. I'm not living unless I'm helping others connect.
Any final words for us?
If you think about it twice, its already too late. In every situation, there's a yes or a no; the worse that can happen is a no. Also, practice never makes perfect, but makes better. Pursue better!