Last year, MyMBA Members met with John Fazzolari, the Co-Founder of Revivn, a startup with major hubs in both New York City and San Francisco. Revivn is a Public Benefit Corporation focused on reshaping the way large enterprises view hardware lifecycle management. Revivn has continued to grow and hire as they expand past eight figures in annual revenue with much larger goals in mind.
Every other week, MyMBA cohorts meet with business leaders to learn about their path to success and discuss their story, business principles, ideas, and more.
During our meeting with John, we learned directly from the co-founder about the pain and pivots required in starting a successful company.
Early on, John and his co-founder Anthony Serina tested business models for Revivn out of their East Village apartment. The beginning was difficult, and John laments the failing of an early program they organized to collect used iPhones. John remembers that they only collected about one iPhone.
As Revivn tested new business models, John discussed with us the power of the cold email. John and Anthony crafted cold emails to send to office managers of potential business partners. These cold emails led to pitch meetings, which ultimately led to their first 10 customers.
As advice to the MyMBA cohort (and aligned with the vision of MyMBA), John noted that we should be much more comfortable sending cold emails. Do not apply to a job on a website with an application, John explains. Rather, email the founders, the hiring managers, and senior members of the team. Build a relationship with a real person to show your interest in the position and company.
MyMBA stresses utilizing cold emails and connecting online. At MyMBA, we build a portfolio of business-related content on a personal website. Insert a link to your portfolio in that cold email to show potential employers that you are driven, motivated, and interested in the job.
While Revivn earned 10 initial customers, they hit roadblocks on obtaining additional customers. John and Anthony decided to apply to startup accelerators. They faced difficulties with rejection to some accelerators but, again, they used cold emails to their advantage. John and Anthony cold emailed founders to gain an advantage in acceptance to the accelerator.
The experience of being around other founders changed Revivn. They had access to a powerful network and were surrounded by tenacious, like-minded people. John recommends accelerators to anyone struggling to build a startup.
Revivn’s business model clicked when they determined through several iterations of the initial product that they could offer a differentiated service to enterprises who required regular hardware collections. Revivn is able to both donate and resell the refurbished equipment to 3rd parties. After iterating on several different models for how to go about working with partners and collecting the equipment, Revivn’s sales eventually exploded.
Revivn is profitable and continues to grow. They are able to continue to grow with limited additional funding – a conscious decision the founders made. However, the path took constant persistence and tenacity. From iterating on the business model to long hours selling the idea, John and Anthony created a successful business (and they’re just getting started!).
As we wrapped up our discussion with John, he explained to MyMBA the importance of avoiding external validation with your company or life. An article in TechCrunch won’t make a successful company or make you happy. Build your company and career how you envision it. Don’t worry about what other people say or think.
John was an insightful Industry Partner and we thank him for taking the time to speak with the MyMBA cohort.