My NativeAdVantage: Helping people get the most out of their affinity networks
Andrew is the co-founder and CEO of Alumnifire. He has more than 15 years of experience building teams and scaling businesses. He's worked for iconic brands like CBS Sports, AOL, and American Express and helped build, scale, and transition startups like Patch.com and CSTV. Prior to Alumnifire, Andrew was a founding member of Patch.com (which was purchased by AOL in 2009), where he served as VP of Revenue and VP of Directory & Development. Andrew oversaw multiple businesses during his time at Patch and led the team responsible for scaling the platform from 3 sites to over 750 nationally in one year. Before Patch, Andrew served as Director of Digital Media for CBS College Sports, where he managed content and revenue partnerships across the brand's digital properties. He oversaw multiple business units, including U-Wire, a wire service powered by student journalists at over than 800 colleges and universities. Andrew has also worked at American Express, IBM, and MetLife.
He started his entrepreneurial journey on a ladder with a squeegee washing windows door-to-door in New Jersey. Andrew holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and a BA from Connecticut College. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife and two children and was selected as a "Top 40 under 40 Irish-American" by the Irish Echo in 2013.
What do you do best?
We help people get the most out of their affinity networks. These can range from college networks to corporate and nonprofit networks. We give our members the ability to open doors for one another in the real world and on their own terms. Doing so grows the value of these communities and creates powerful outcomes for their members.
What makes you the best?
We make valuable networks actionable. Existing networking tools are diluted and largely ignore affinity groups. Alumni networks are a perfect example of this -- 99% of your alumni networks are total strangers but, according to our research, 9 out of 10 of them would prefer to hire a fellow alum if given the choice among equally qualified candidates. That’s a lot of potential open doors. Every network is full of potential opportunities and open doors, but not knowing how to discover them often becomes a barrier. Alumnifire makes it easy to navigate networks to find these open doors. It also makes it easy to interact with fellow members and give back on your own terms. There’s no such thing as a “cold call” on Alumnifire because everyone has already taken the initiative to make themselves available to help others.
How will you stay the best?
By continuing to successfully unlock affinity networks for the people that they matter most to -- their members. Alumnifire sites are free and powered by alumni themselves. Sites can be launched directly by alums or by their community’s leaders, so there's no need for the school or affinity organization to be involved unless they want to be. We're addressing a big need. Since launching out of our private beta last May, we’ve had requests from hundreds of different alumni communities ranging from Ivy League colleges to local nonprofits.
What are your aspirations: business & personal?
Business: To "kill the cold call" and unlock the enormous value that resides in every affinity network on Earth.
Personal: To create things that have a positive impact. My cofounder Trip Tate and I are committed to doing this at Alumnifire. I hope we’ll have the opportunity to continue doing this in other ways for years to come.
What fascinates you?
I’m continually fascinated by how much people are willing to help one another if asked. Affinity only magnifies this. In his book “Tribes”, Seth Godin wrote “One of the most powerful survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and take from) a group of like-minded people.” Affinity networks surround us -- neighborhoods, hobby groups, classmates, coworkers… the list goes on.
There’s no time like the present.
My mom & dad. They’re amazing people and I’m thankful for them.
New York, Ireland, and Istanbul are some of my favorites.
Amazon Prime. For working parents with kids, it makes life a lot easier.
Bothering my friends, family, and coworkers with historical tidbits and trivia. Every year I become a little more like Cliff Clavin.