Zvi has raised several rounds of financing on AngelList in the process of building Contactually. Among other things, his experience with the platform is interesting in this interview.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your personal journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised and in what kind of background?
Zvi Band: I was born in Boston. I was mainly raised on the West Coast. Then my family moved to the DC area to follow my father’s career. I’ve been now a DC resident for the past 15 years. I would qualify myself as a builder. As a kid, I always had Legos in my hands. Legos turned into software and software turned into companies.
Sramana Mitra: What did you do for schooling?
Zvi Band: I had a typical American middle-class upbringing. I went to public school. I went to school at the University of Maryland – College Park where I got a degree in Computer Science and Economics. I started seeing early on that I wasn’t just interested in computers. I was interested in the business side of things, which is why I double-majored in Economics.
Sramana Mitra: I did Computer Science and Economics with exactly those same motivations. When you came out of college, what was going on in the world? What year was it? What was the state of the industry?
Zvi Band: I graduated in 2006. I wish I could talk about what the state of the industry was. 2005 to 2006 was an exciting time. We were seeing the rise of YCombinator and other startup incubators. We saw the release of Android and iPhone. I won’t say I’m an entrepreneur by birth. I actually went to work at a large government consulting firm. That was really what I was focused on.
As I was looking around, it didn’t feel right. Something was wrong. I thought that I wasn’t meant to be there. That was the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. I started really investigating what entrepreneurship is like. I ended up jumping on my own. I probably started being an entrepreneur at the worst time possible.
Sramana Mitra: What was the first thing that you started and what was the motivation? What was the thought behind that?
Zvi Band: It wasn’t like I went from a cubicle to starting my own company. I first started off by hanging out my own shingle as a freelance developer. I wanted to do interesting projects but wasn’t necessarily sure what I wanted to do long-term. I ended up doing some consulting. I was building Facebook apps for a lot of great brands.
Then I started my own company. I was working with the likes of Ford, CBS, and Volkswagen building out their high-end projects. I was well on my way to being a product entrepreneur, but then I learned early on that I didn’t really wanted to get paid for building other people’s dreams. It was lucrative and I was able to do what I wanted to do, but at the end of the day, I wasn’t building something that I was passionate about. Then I started developing specific apps and projects.