My brother Jon invited me out to lunch with his friend Brent on my first full day in the city. When my family moved to Fairfax, Virginia way back in 1992, we were neighbors with Brent's family. In fact, I have the distinct memory of Brent's older brother (my age) and him introducing us to this little thing called the Internet by way of doing an online search of the Harvard library.
Fast forward 17 years and Brent's decision to leave IBM in Florida to help build a start-up in NYC has paid off. This was evident when Jon and I entered the current office of Yext in a building on Colombus Circle. Memories of start-ups past swirled through my mind. I'm going 2 for 2 in my career, and will be prowling for a third start-up to join now that I'm back from my trip. Exposed brick walls, an open-office atmosphere, good background music, big computer monitors (always a good thing) and a general feel that this was a young, growing company on the move. One great perk the college recruits are surely appreciating is the free dinners.
Brent gave us a tour of the office and introduced us to a few guys on the Executive Team. We then headed across the street and entered a fairly new mall for lunch. In the main atrium/lobby area, I spotted two giant Fernando Botero sculptures. By then, though, I was already on warning from my brother about talking to much about Colombia. He certainly wasn't shy about letting me know I was starting to get on his nerves. More on this topic in a future post.
Over lunch, we learned a lot about Yext, which is billing itself as the next Yellow Pages. Basically, that giant phonebook sitting in your kitchen somewhere if you live in the USA is growing obsolete, and Yext is trying to capitalize on the changing tide. Listening and watching Brent talk about the company was inspiring. I could tell he was proud and excited of what he was helping to build, and when you're around people with that kind of enthusiasm about what they do, it is infectious.
After lunch, I had the momentary thought of simply going back to Jon's apartment for the afternoon, but this is New York City in Summer, and the southwestern corner of Central Park was just across the street.