To avoid the typical boring bio, I’m going to skip the requisite third-person voice. I think we know each other well enough that I can speak candidly and dispense with the lie that I outsourced my history to a copywriter.
I was born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in El Paso, Texas by a couple of Pittsburgh-raised high school sweethearts. My father started and ran his own general contracting company, successfully building everything from warehouses to amusement park rides while staying active in my life as a coach, two-time “room mother”, and role model. My mother split her time between staying at home and serving as a class leader at Weight Watchers, later winning a contest as one of the top twelve leaders in the country. My worth ethic, entrepreneurial spirit, and love of Pittsburgh were bred into me from childhood.
In addition to the usual things kids do, I spent a lot of time selling stuff. First, I sold popcorn as a Cub Scout, then M&M’s for middle school band. Like most entrepreneurs, I got tired of working for the man ($500 worth of popcorn and all I got is a f’in trophy?) and turned my life-long interest in computers into a web development business called BNDSoftware (BND = Boy Next Door — I hadn’t yet hit my branding stride). My most high-profile clients at the time were Western Playland (El Paso’s local amusement park) and former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Dewayne Washington.
At the age of 16, I had the opportunity to attend the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science, a unique residential program for high school-aged students who are high achievers and interested in, wait for it, mathematics and science. Knowing that my prospects as a professional football player were dim at best (I broke my arm on the first day I put on pads — not the best omen), I decided that the two years of free education at the University of North Texas were too good to pass up, even if it required me to move 500 miles from home and miss my last two years of “real” high school. The relationships I made and the skills I developed were invaluable, but the program was an unexpectedly challenging experience.
Spending summers in Pittsburgh with extended family led me to apply to schools in the region. I chose Saint Vincent College, leaving after three years with a degree, two great internships, significant graphic design experience, a solid business education, and an intimate understanding of how ego and power can affect the insignificant decisions for which student government is responsible. It is also where I became trained and certified as a firefighter, which meant that I got to play with the gear, run into a burning building, and make sophomoric jokes about the “hose bed.” Good times.
Since graduating, I’ve had the chance to do some really cool things. I’ve jumped out of airplanes. I’ve developed logos and identities for more than 20 companies. I’ve taken a road trip through Spain and Portugal. I’ve run a political campaign for a friend (we lost badly). I’ve helped to convince angel investors to invest $850,000-plus in a company (Eyenavision, which continues to operate in the North Side of Pittsburgh). I’ve driven 29 hours each-way between Pittsburgh and El Paso with a small suitcase and a mix CD. I’ve done both stand-up and improv comedy. I’ve completed a community leadership program, served on three boards, and have had some interesting careers. Despite a lifelong inability to walk and chew gum at the same time, I got my motorcycle license. Needless to say, it has been a great adventure.
Today, I am the CEO of PortaBeer, a company I helped to co-found with friends and have taught marketing (entrepreneurial and otherwise) at my undergraduate alma mater. I’m an evangelist for the Pittsburgh region (see articles here and here), a graduate of the Leadership Development Initiative program, class XV, offered by Leadership Pittsburgh, Inc., and have completed my MBA in Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business. I currently live in Bellevue, Pennyslvania with my beautiful wife Mallory, brew beer in my kitchen from time to time, enjoy golfing at Strawberry Ridge Golf Course in Zelienople, PA, and am happy to be alive.