I recently interviewed Rally cofounder Rob Petrozzo. Like many founders, Rob traces his natural progression for creativity back to his youth. He'd draw and design plans to make sneakers, high rise buildings- he had millions of ideas he'd put down on paper. He turned that passion into art education and was lucky to have a supportive family who never questioned his ability to turn design into a career. Inspiring teachers along the way reminded him often he could build a real career and write his own story.
Growing up in Brooklyn, his parents where entrepreneurs. They owned a local Italian restaurant for the majority of Rob's childhood. Here he learned the value of hard work. His first job was bussing tables at thirteen years old. If you know the restaurant business, you know it's a 24 hour job. Good restaurants are the epitome of a service business. You're dealing with a million personalities and a million problems at the same time. Rob learned quickly that keeping different customer types happy simultaneously is a skill you need to shape a successful business.
The drive to become an entrepreneur isn't usually a conscious decision for many founders. After college, Rob was keen on getting to work and building his career. He made extra money doing freelance design for the music industry while in college. He used that money to set up small design studio in a part of downtown Brooklyn called Dumbo. He started working free for anyone who had a large audience he could get his work in front of. This was before lnstagram. Back then, freelancers needed real word of mouth to stay relevant. But the phone started ringing with opportunities, and Rob put his head down and pumped out as much design work as he could. It was through this experience he realized he wouldn't work for anyone else without some form of equity; whether on paper or through the value of the relationship.