Growing up, I didn’t even know what an architect did. My guidance counselor in high school saw that I was really good at art and math, so he suggested I think about becoming an architect. I didn’t fully understand what that was, but then my mom found out that the program at Cooper Union was free, so I applied. I didn’t realize it was harder to get into than West Point until later, which was probably a good thing. Looking back, I think this is one of the things that has helped me be successful: I don’t internalize statistics like that.
The way I say “thank you” has changed. I used to think I was thanking people, but it was very surface level—like, “I probably could have done this better myself, but thanks.” But once you build a true team, “thank you” is something that comes from the depths of your heart, because you can see the incredible value they have contributed.
I hear a lot of entrepreneurs say they went into something because of a “big market.” Everybody talks about the $400 billion home renovation market and a lot of people have tried to attack it. At Sweeten, we are the only ones who have built a true marketplace around transformational renovation projects, working exclusively with licensed general contractors to complete them. [To start a business,] you have to be truly interested in solving a particular problem because there will be days, nights, weeks, months, and even years when only natural curiosity and enthusiasm will carry you forward.