Jeremy Johnson is Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of 2tor, an education-technology company that partners with institutions of higher education such as Georgetown, UNC Chapel Hill ,and USC to deliver online degree programs. He has lectured at Princeton, Pace, and Fordham and is a board member of the Young Entrepreneur Council.
"As a start up, relationships are your most valuable currency and the most important ones often begin unexpectedly.
A few summers ago, 2tor was in its infancy and sharing office space at Rose Tech Ventures in New York City's Flatiron District. The good people at Rose Tech invited us to join a paintball event where local startups would compete against one another, but we didn't have enough people to enter as a full team. Khanan Grauer, whose mobile app startup, Touch App Media, was also being incubated at Rose Tech Ventures, willingly joined us.
That day, Khanan and our CTO, James Kenigsberg, struck a friendship based on technology, paintball and amor di patria. Flash forward a few years: James and his team, in conjunction with partners in our Masters in teaching and Masters in social work programs, are beginning to think through what a mobile version of our already award-winning learning management system would look like. Over that time period, Khanan's company has grown into one of the most advanced app development firms in the country. Who do you think James called for help? A few months later, their combined efforts gave birth to the first fully featured mobile learning management system in the world.
The moral, of course, is simple: Everything that matters is between people. Your next business partner or that rock star developer doesn't necessarily have to come from a job board. In fact, the best ones rarely do. In 2tor's three short years, we've hired people we found on Twitter, met at conferences and even an intern or two met over foosball at a local watering hole.
As an entrepreneur, always keep an eye out for great talent, even where you least expect it. In the future, when you find yourself putting in late nights at the office or worrying about that upcoming (daunting) presentation, step outside your comfort zone -- think of the recent chance meetings you've had and, if any of the people you've come across enter your thoughts, reach out. You never know when serendipitous encounters can lead to the next big thing."
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