Last week I launched my first company. This is how I got there…
Growing up, my dream was to be a professional baseball player. My bedtime was the end of the Yankee game, my first favorite book was about Derek Jeter, and I used batting gloves as winter gloves. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before I realized that wasn’t going to happen. After my professional sports dreams ended, I thought I wanted to be a sports agent. The summer before my junior year of high school I took a course at Columbia University about Sports Management. I really enjoyed the final assignment where we were challenged to create a “Superbowl” event for an imaginary sport. Thereafter, at NYU, I took a Sports and Media class where redesigning sports business models was a fun topic. I had no idea what would be my next step.
Winter break of freshman year, while on vacation with my family, I was frequently asked about what I was going to do over the summer. I knew that they meant well but I had no idea what I should do. I spent the hour before our return flight looking for possible internships and saw an email about Hunter High School’s alumni network. I reached out to Dave Kerpen who had posted an internship position but had no idea that it would lead to such a formative experience.
After a series of interviews and several sample tasks, I had the job! Dave called and asked when I could start. I responded by saying that finals ended the second week of May, so I would be home around then. He laughed and said, “No, I mean next week or the one after?” I called my parents that night and started the following week working remotely. I sensed that this was going to be an incredible experience but never expected that I would still be working for him over a year later.
Initially, I mostly managed Dave’s appointment schedule and created presentations for his speaking events. As time went by I learned an incredible amount and my responsibilities grew. We started training nine of Century 21’s best real estate agents and Dave trusted me to be the point person and project manager. This was my first real experience communicating and working with clients. I would go from having lunch with friends to having conference calls with Century 21 executives.
Over last summer, while working on-site in the Likeable New York City office, my role really expanded. Dave started asking for my help with more projects and I also supervised two junior interns. I was always eager to learn more and was always happy to help the business grow. I created social media marketing campaigns, learned how to pitch them, and then how to run them. I learned how to create websites. I learned how to provide monthly and annual progress reports. Our work with the Century 21 real estate agents evolved into publishing a book on Amazon. As Associate Editor, I was responsible for fine-tuning the content of Winning Real Estate and guiding Century 21 leadership through the Amazon publishing process. I have written articles, planned and coordinated training events, and conducted research on potential business concepts.
Working with an entrepreneur has been an incredible experience. Dave gives me the freedom to take on as much responsibility as I can and to explore areas in which I am interested. I am incredibly grateful to Dave for being not only a great boss but an incredible mentor.
Personally, it’s very rewarding to think back to where I was in terms of professional skills a year ago to where I am today. I’ve learned a tremendous amount and am excited to continue to learn and grow. I’ve taken a page from Dave Kerpen’s playbook and launched my first company, Solvit.
Hamilton has a long history of connecting students with alumni and parents whose advice, expertise, and resources help talented young people achieve success for themselves and in their communities.
My experiences have given me the essential training, skills, and knowledge needed to develop a customized strategy to ignite the social media potential of small businesses. I love to help companies reach untapped customers and to grow and monetize their brand. Solvit will create a strategy that has the ability to address, improve and communicate all aspects of brand-specific thought leadership.
To be completely honest, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I am both nervous and excited for my future.
Robert Berk ’20 grew up in Manhattan, went to Hunter College High School, and is currently majoring in government and minoring in economics and communication. At Hamilton, he is a Spectator staff writer for both the Sports and Opinions sections, Vice President of the Chabad student group, and a member of Delta Chi. For more than a year, he’s worked directly with Dave Kerpen, Founder and CEO of Likeable Local and the Chairman of Likeable Media. Dave is a New York Times best-selling author, global keynote speaker, and serial entrepreneur. Last week Robert launched his first company, Solvit. Solvit helps small businesses grow by creating individualized efficient solutions that increase brand awareness and influence. This summer he will be attending the Tuck Business Bridge Program at Dartmouth.