Adam Kirsch’s BIO
Adam Kirsch is a student at Cornell University’s School of Industrial & Labor Relations and the Chief Operating Officer of Yorango, a startup focused on developing software solutions for the real estate industry. Prior to joining Yorango, he launched Beacon Records, a promotional and professional services firm serving music artists and nightlife properties. Outside of entrepreneurship, he enjoys reading, writing and sports, especially fencing. Adam is originally from Bergen County, NJ.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
1. Please share with us what prompted your creation of Yorango?
Adam: Yorango was started as part of Life Changing Labs, then called Ivy Action Tank, which is
an entrepreneur collective consisting primarily of Cornell students.
I joined the team to lead business development at the end of the summer, after the original engineering team of Dylan Yang, Will Feng, Albert Liao and Eric Morris led development of our minimum viable product. The initial project was inspired by dissatisfaction with existing “sketchy” online classifieds platforms and a lack of safe, easy-to-use resources for student renters.
2. There is no typical day in the life of an entrepreneur. Please share with us a sample of your day, start to finish.
Adam: When I’m at school, I typically wake up around 7 or 8 AM, work for a bit, usually on email, before showering, eating breakfast and heading off to class. I’ll typically check in with members of the team between classes and I schedule most of my meetings for lunchtime when possible.
After class, I usually head to the library and catch up on homework. If I don’t have much to do for class, I’m usually off to the Popshop, Cornell’s co-working space, to handle some Yorango projects. The Popshop is also a fantastic place to meet with other Cornell entrepreneurs and see how their projects are going. If I’m not doing something school-related or working at the Popshop, I like to meet with potential clients or current Yorango users at least a couple of times each week to share our platform or get feedback.
Around 5 or 6 PM most nights, I’ll have dinner before rushing off to an extracurricular or a study group for a couple hours before spending some time with friends and catching up on any unfinished email from earlier in the day. Depending on the night, I may have a call or two as well.
I always try to go to sleep by midnight – a regular sleep schedule has definitely helped me be more productive and wake up refreshed every morning.
3. What are your ‘can’t live without’ Smartphone or desktop applications?
Adam: I’m a big fan of web app Trello for task management, and we use Skype a fair amount, especially on breaks while our team is scattered around the world. IFTTT is another excellent tool which leverages different Internet-connected services for easy automation. For example, IFTTT can automatically text me a calendar updates or call me with reminder. Other than those, I try to keep it pretty simple – email, standard office and calendar stuff, etc.
4. What are your tricks for time management?
Adam: I used to not be great at managing time. There was one point not too long ago where I made a list of everything I needed to do one day, added up the estimated time and found out I needed 26 hours in a day to finish it all. After that, I got really serious about organization.
As a compulsive scheduler, I make very heavy use of Google Calendar, and I get appointments and reminders texted to me all the time with IFTTT. I’m also working towards minimizing time spent on email by batching it and setting aside dedicated response windows. The same goes for social media. Every day, I also block off time without any computer or mobile device usage to just focus on tasks without the distractions of technology.
5. What was the best advice you received when you started your career?
Adam: Be nice, be courteous, be yourself and always remember that you started a business to make money.
6. Given the current economic climate, what has been your strategy for building awareness of Yorango? ( what you do for short term and long term growth)?
Adam: The good thing about being a college student running a campus startup and targeting college markets is that you have easy access to the people you want your product in front of. We’re lucky that many of our users report good experiences and tell their friends about what we’re doing, but we also build awareness through social media, going to networking events.
7. What is your proudest achievement as an accomplished entrepreneur?
Adam: Well, I don’t know if I’d call myself “accomplished” yet. For the Yorango team, I’m proudest of our acceptance to Cornell’s eLab incubator, our acceleration by Startup Labs Syracuse, and our Top 5 finish in Cornell Venture Challenge, a business competition run by the Johnson Graduate School of Management.
8. How do you achieve balance in your life?
Adam: I try to achieve balance by participating in a number of extracurricular activities outside of entrepreneurship and setting aside time to spend uninterrupted with family and friends.
9. Your top 3 book recommendations?
1) The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss ;
2) Switch by Chip & Dan Heath ;
3) Moneyball by Michael Lewis.
10. What are your most rewarding charitable involvements?
Adam: Whenever I’m home, I help out at Modified Academy of Fencing, a nonprofit organization that teaches a wonderful sport. I started fencing right before high school and absolutely love it, so pitching in from time-to-time at MAF is highly rewarding.
I also act as a resource whenever possible for high school students, especially if they are interested in entrepreneurship or getting ready for the college admissions process. Last year, I had the opportunity to speak on entrepreneurship at my high school and really enjoyed that, so I hope to do more along those lines in the future.
Finally, my fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, is really active in community service and philanthropy. In the past year, we’ve been able to benefit many organizations, including a local elementary school and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
11. Who has influenced your career the most?
Adam: My mom and my grandparents taught me about entrepreneurship before I even knew the word existed. I was born into their family wholesale dessert business, and grew up going to the office and going on sales calls with them. Being around that atmosphere my entire life really encouraged me and showed me the accessibility of business.
After coming to Cornell, I was really encouraged by Professor Dan Cohen and his eLab team, including Life Changing Labs founders Teddy Brinkofski and Peter Cortle. The entire eLab program really set the course for Yorango to date, and I am incredibly grateful for that.
12. What is your advice for someone interested in entrepreneurship?
Adam: Learn as much as you can. Go to networking events, meet people with similar interests and people who have already started businesses, and always look for opportunities to deepen your understanding of what it means to be an entrepreneur.